Editing electronically is a bit like opening a door that looks familiar and stepping out into endless space. Instead of the expected room with its windows, light switch, and furniture that stays where you arranged it, there is on-goingness. The paragraph you thought you put in the corner, just next to the floor-lamp, ends up on the ceiling; the poetry lines you try to carefully reconstruct exactly as the writer intended--in a kind of mobile hung from the ceiling--are as vulnerable to electronic wobble as if they'd been blown by the wind. Five reconstructions later, you may achieve a close approximation. There are no walls and there is no ceiling...although endless file cabinets DO exist somewhere out there, unless they suddenly disappear for no explainable reason.
But one step over the threshold, the beckoning light keeps pulling you forward into the next imagined place because, on one level, what you are projecting appears to be familiar for its cloudy earth atmosphere of precipitate light and dark zones, while what you are experiencing, in fact, is without territorial markers or predictable stops and starts.
The How2 e-version of HOW(ever) went on-line last March (1999), eight years after the print version had completed its sixth volume. The impetus behind this move came from the newly perceived need for networking and increased conversation among women poets and scholars in English language communities--in particular, the need for more women writers to enter into the conversation/critique centered on innovative directions in poetry and cross-genre writing forms. A number of excellent print journals and book projects being edited, or co-edited, by women writers are now in place--and abundantly so (see our "in'print" listing)-- but many of these have tended to circulate within discretely separate geographic, academic and special-interest circles, sometimes simply for lack of adequate small-press distribution or intra-group networks...or sometimes as a self-elected rite of independence or dialogue of exclusivity.
The lure of non-measurable print space, in the sense of counting pages and paying for paper and ink by the pound, had become increasingly tempting by 1997: Given a website of one's own, one could "afford" to print full-length talks, long chunks of new writing, photographs of authors and as much interesting art work as you could find. The instant communication availability--jumping from San Francisco to Rome to Sydney to Montreal to Berlin to Tokyo--beckoned like a brilliantly believable hologram. One could, perhaps, invite these private conversations into a more public--even global-- conversation.
This issue, while being the Second number to go on-line, is like an alternative First out...in several ways. We have taken apart the original number 1, point-by-point, in order to redesign every detail--from increased ease of browsing to substantially more visual information (& pleasure). Access to How2 is free for the browsing...we do not charge a subscription fee, nor do we provide printed copies although we have worked to make How2 easier to capture and print for off-line use.
Beginning with this issue, we activate the practice of inviting Guest Editors to curate three significant sections of each issue of How2. These sections include: 1) "reading/s" (essays, talks given in the reading/writing community, conference papers, re-prints & excerpts of significant scholarly work); 2) "new writing" (recent poetry, short prose forms, theatre experiment, cross-genre inventions, etc.); 3) "forum" (a roundtable discussion of "the question" posed by the guest editor--or co-editors, of each issue. Writers for this exchange are chosen by those editing it. The idea behind revolving guest editors is to keep the taste and understanding of "innovation" in circulation among a range of newcomers, as well as more seasoned participants, and to encourage an open field of continuous practical and theoretical speculation, including a re-definition of terms, so as to touch on--and share--a greater range of writing practices coming out of modernist and avant garde writing micro-communities.
For their true-grit spirit and the often complex labors of a first time out, we are immensely grateful to our first team of guest editors: Ann Vickery (Sydney ), for "reading/s"; Elena Rivera (NYC), for "new writing"; and Robin Tremblay-McGaw and Kathy Lou Schultz (San Francisco), for "forum".
A special salute, also, to Cole Swenson (Denver), who will regularly coordinate our "translation" section focused on one foreign language per issue and one or several writers in that language-- translated by English language poets, with an introduction to the poets and their practice. In each current issue we will list the guest editor for the following issue, with email address, so that readers may propose work directly to those curating particular sections.
Ideas for "work/book"--another addition to H2/2--may be proposed to Managing Editor, Jo Ann Wasserman, who will regularly coordinate this section. (See "work/book" in Table of Contents). Shorter research finds and reading responses to works by modernist and contemporary women pushing beyond the familiar--are invited from any scholar, poet, student or non-categorized reader--via reportage, journal, letter exchange, fictive dialogue, etc.-- for the "alerts" section.
Our edited correspondence section--"postcard"--is focused on comments in response to writing in past issues of H2, briefest reading recommendations and excerpts from correspondence between writer-readers. As of late August, "postcard" comments have been added actively into existing mail, with a revolving exchange to be continually up-dated between formal issues of the journal. Authors of contributions for these two sections--plus the "forum"--need not be gender-exclusive, but will be selected and edited according to their relatedness to our concerns in this journal.
In the current issue you will find a number of full or excerpted texts--as well as informal responses-- to talks delivered in writing-community forums or at recent professional meetings: the "Page Mothers" conference, March 5-7, (organized at UCSan Diego by Rae Armantrout and Fanny Howe) and the conference "Where Lyric Tradition Meets Language Poetry: Innovation in Contemporary American Poetry by Women," April 8-10 (organized at Barnard College by Claudia Rankine and Allison Cummings). It is our intention to feature such written talks--as well as a range of post-conference responses, arguments and critique--as part of the on-going How2 public exchange.
What we need from you:
The idea was--and IS--exciting, but for readers still new to the skills of browsing, down-loading and printing off of the Internet website, you should know that this editor was at Stage One of neophyte technical skills when the idea began translating into first activity. The struggle to acquire the minimal necessary knowledge to edit an electronic web journal has been like learning a new language in order to read a foreign writer: each time you believe you have moved forward in your understanding, you discover how woefully inadequate your bit of progress is. Without a lot of major help--in particular, that of Mg. Editor, Jo Ann Wasserman--How2/2 would not be in place.
Moreover, Bucknell University's Stadler Poetry Center has provided us with extraordinary support for this project with a website, as well as technical assistance from the endlessly inventive engineering & flexible visual responsiveness of webmaster, Roberta Sims. Without her spirited collaboration--and hours of weekend support--these changes would not be in place. A moment of electronic pause as we applaud her.
Designer: Roberta L. Sims
of recent books may be sent to:
The HOW(ever) Archive, at Rutgers
Rutgers' Scholarly Communication Center hosts the HOW(ever) archive on its web server at the address: http://www.scc.rutgers.edu/however. The HTML editions of the original print version, volumes I-VI, [May 1983-January 1992] are available. As issues of HOW2 are completed, they will be added to the archive.
Web Development, the HOW(ever) Archive at Rutgers:
Kathleen Crown, Miriam Bartha
Production Coordinators, Poetry in the Public Sphere
Delphine Khanna,Technical Consultant--SCC/CETH
Erin Griffith, Archive Production/Editing--SCC/CETH
Theresa Duhon, Proofreader, html translations
Gregory Murphy, Technical Consultant--SCC/CETH
Design, Stan Friedman
go to this issue's table of contents