What a wonderful year 2016 was for Songs of Eretz! The Poetry Review logged 68,000 views--that’s over 1,300 per week, shattering last year’s record of 52,000 views. The site also reached another milestone, surpassing 200,000 total views! Just over 250 poems were published, including twenty-four composed by poets whose submissions were unsolicited. Also, seventeen books of poetry were reviewed--giving the “review” of the Poetry Review a whole new layer of meaning.
2016 also saw the full implementation of our Frequent Contributor program with a core of handpicked up-and-coming poets submitting their best work for publication on a regular schedule. Songs of Eretz is proud to have provided a steady platform for these exceptional poets. We plan to continue this successful program indefinitely.
This year’s Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest--our only fundraising event--was an unqualified triumph, thanks to the dozens of loyal supporters of our mission. Former Kansas Poet Laureate Caryn Mirriam Goldberg did an outstanding job as Guest Judge, providing personal feedback to the winner and all finalists. I personally enjoyed reading and providing individual feedback for the hundreds of poems that were submitted but did not envy Caryn the task of choosing the winner--there were so many beautiful poems. Look for the finalist poems to be published in the first half of 2017 and for the winning poem to be published in January.
This year also saw another paid publishing opportunity offered by Songs of Eretz--the first annual Editor’s Choice Award. This award is given by the Editor to the poet whose poem published in the previous year “moved him the most.” All poems by poets other than FCs are automatically eligible--there is no entry fee. The contest raised enough funds to grant this year’s winner a fifty-dollar prize with an additional fifty dollars set aside for the prize in the coming year.
Speaking of the coming year, the contest took in enough to allow Songs of Eretz to begin to offer an honorarium of five dollars each for thirty unsolicited poems that will be accepted for publication in 2017. Becoming a self sustaining paying poetry venue has been a primary goal of Songs of Eretz for a long time--a goal we are proud to have accomplished with the devoted support of many Friends of Eretz. We have no doubt that this achievement will attract more poets of quality and refinement to our cause. Equally exciting, we are pleased and honored to announce that the Guest Judge for the Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest in the coming year will be the current Poet Laureate of Kansas, Eric McHenry. Eric is an associate professor of English at Washburn University in Topeka whose work as a poet has achieved national recognition. So, as spectacular as 2016 was for Songs of Eretz, I have no doubt that 2017 will be even more magnificent.
All the best for a happy New Year,
Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD