Why I Started My Own Poetry Journal

Why I Started My Own Poetry Journal

If you’ve been following Little Infinite, you may have seen my recent piece, How I Became A Poet, which detailed my long and illustrious love affair with the written word.

While I am a poet and writer, I’m also a poetry editor — and today I’m here to pull back the curtain and give you a glimpse into how that happened.

I was fresh out of graduate school (MFA in creative writing, with a focus in poetry) in 2012, strapped with debt and working multiple jobs to pay the rent. This was around the time I started experiencing the chronic health condition I live with, Ankylosing Spondylitis (a spinal disease).

“I wanted to create a space where I could share my art and thoughts and the art and thoughts of others. I wanted to create a space that could make room for the dark parts of ourselves (loneliness, trauma, mental health issues) as well as the light (feminism, poetry, literature). “

All of that took a toll on me; I felt I was living in a bubble of work and pain and fatigue, floating out at sea — farther and farther from my own personal reality. I was supposed to be a poet, a dreamer, a creator. I was supposed to be a lover. A magic maker.

Except, at this point, I wasn’t any of those things. I missed my creativity and yearned for a sense of community. I realized that at the core of my newfound emptiness was a glimmer without air to grow.

I wanted to create a space where I could share my art and thoughts and the art and thoughts of others. I wanted to create a space that could make room for the dark parts of ourselves (loneliness, trauma, mental health issues) as well as the light (feminism, poetry, literature).

So, I decided to create a scrappy blog, for which I could write and invite others to write. It was a blend of my own personal interests — poetry, personal essay, magic and witchiness, feminism. As it grew, it took on the shapes and hues of the other editors and writers who added to it.

I envisioned it as a little corner of the internet where people could share beauty and find meaning. And it gave me all of that. After work, despite being exhausted or sick, I’d come home to this little project of mine. It gave me hope, distracted me from pain, and helped grow my confidence and creativity.

I’d come home and make lists of what I wanted to write about — new books, poets I liked, personal essays, and I’d reach out to poets and writers who I wanted to publish. I recruited people, other poets and writers, who wanted to write occasionally. I created an email account for submissions. And in the middle of a deeply hot summer — July 2013 — my magazine was born.

What’s it called, you ask? Luna Luna.

Luna Luna was inspired by the moon’s two sides (the dark and the light) and by the Italian/Spanish language (my ancestry). Plus, it was my nickname for many years.

Because poetry was my first language, we published a lot of it, focusing on making space or new voices and new forms. We love hybrid poetry (this is poetry that teeters on the brink of other genres). We love weird, dark, confessional, wild poetry. We love poetry from new writers and from established writers. We love poetry that examines culture, politics, the body, desire, the self. And we publish a lot of it.

Being born a poet — because, I think, no matter what you study or do or think, writing poetry is a calling, an involuntary urge — gave my life so much meaning.

When I was down and out and experiencing writer’s block, being able to read the works of other poets gave me lifeblood. Through Luna Luna, I was able to meet poets in my city, meet poets in other cities, and grow a community that changed me from the inside out. It’s grown from a handful of writers to hundreds; it had a few hundred readers and now it sits around 50,000 a month.

We don’t have funding or a social media guru — or anything official at all (it’s run out of our bedrooms), but it’s been so rewarding. We’ve been featured at The Annual NYC Poetry Festival, BuzzFeed, and other places. We also run a digital community. And it’s all because of our amazing writers, editors, and poets.

While I edit Luna Luna‘s many sections (not just poetry), it always feels like I’ve come home when I get a poetry submission. It’s the language I most fluidly speak; I can speak it in my dreams.

I hope one day you’ll read our works or send your poetry our way.

Photo by Ewan Robertson on Unsplash