What do you do if you’re a lit mag that has been successfully publishing poets at all stages of their careers for two decades? Well, you start a NEW publication, of course, with an entirely NEW mission! The 4x2 Project is exactly that.
From the editors of The Barrow Street Journal, The 4x2 Project is an online poetry journal featuring new and emerging poets who have not yet published a chapbook or full-length collection.
The name says it all: Every two months, four new poets are featured, with previous contributors being archived at the site. “The object,” Managing Editor Michael Broek explains, “is to provide a brief, highly readable survey of the best emerging voices.”
Started in 1998, Barrow Street Journal has published hundreds of poets, and poems from the Journal have been honored in Best American Poetry twelve times. “The impetus to start 4x2,” Broek says, “was to move more fully into the online realm with a new vision, focused solely on writers who have not yet (but hopefully will soon!) published a book. There are very few venues that focus exclusively on new voices, and 4x2 is intended to highlight those new writers in a concise but powerful format.”
Publishing poetry exclusively online is not without its challenges, Broek notes, “mostly concerning the technology! We don’t have any restrictions on form, and one of our recent poems, ‘Man’s West Once,’ by Susan Kay Anderson, is terrific, but it is long and has really intriguing spacing and formatting that moves all over the page. Getting a poem like that to appear correctly on the screen isn’t easy, but it is a great poem, so we made it work! Considering its length, it’s also not a poem that could be easily accommodated in a print journal, so one of the joys of this is that we don’t have to worry about page count.”
It's this distinction that many editors, writers, and readers appreciate about the online environment, as well as just the convenience and accessibility of online journals. “We are all busy,” Broek laments, “and sometimes when a journal comes in the mail, there’s just no time to digest it all. In this concise format, only featuring four poets at a time, readers can expect to get a snapshot of what’s cutting edge and fresh.” From the first two issues, readers can experience works by Susan Kay Anderson, Miranda Beeson, Emily McKay, Pablo Medina, Doug Ramspeck, Mahtem Shiferraw, Sophia Starmack, and W. R. Weinstein.
Writers looking to submit can expect that all works are read by editors of Barrow Street Journal — Melissa Hotchkiss, Lorna Blake, and Patricia Carlin — as well as the Managing Editor, Michael Broek. Each editor has years of experience editing Barrow Street Journal and are all poets themselves with full-length collections. Submissions are online, and each submission is read by at least two editors. The turnaround time is usually less than one month.
“While we have decades of rewarding experience publishing the print journal,” Broek adds, “the 4x2 is still developing. Eventually, we’d like to add additional features, such as audio of the poets reading their work.”Keeping it new, fresh, and cutting edge is what helps to create a strong publication with a long history. Here’s to just that for The 4x2 Project.