Friday, December 17, 2010

Jacket magazine discussion at upcoming MLA

John Tranter, founder and editor of Jacket for many years and for 40 issues, will be coming to Los Angeles from Australia to join a panel (roundtable discussion) about Jacket at the Modern Language Association conference. The editors of Jacket2, Michael Hennessey and Julia Bloch, are among those who will join John on this panel. Marjorie Perloff will join too and give a response. The session is Saturday, January 8, 7:00–8:15 p.m., Olympic III, J. W. Marriott. Here, below, is a summary of John Tranter's presentation:

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Jacket magazine: a summary

I had misspent many years of my youth working with various print literary magazines. When I saw what the World Wide Web could do with type and layout, I put together an issue of a poetry magazine, with international contributors, one October day in 1997, and launched it onto the waters of cyberspace. I had no idea whether anyone would know it was there, among the other hundreds of millions of pages on the net, but a week later a fellow sent me an email thanking me for publishing a long interview I had done with the British poet Roy Fisher in the magazine. “I like his work,” he said, “and it’s hard to find material on Fisher up here in Nome, Alaska.” I knew then that Jacket would be all right, and find its readers. Or rather they would find Jacket, with the invaluable assistance of the search engines that make the net workable. Since then Jacket has grown to forty issues stuffed full of mainly contemporary poetry in English, though many other cultures appear there too as well as interviews, book reviews, and critical articles. The counter on the homepage shows more than 800,000 visits.

Jacket has featured poetry and criticism from France, Turkey, Poland, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the Netherlands, as well as features on John Ashbery, computer writing, Mina Loy, flarf, Yasusada, Anne Waldmann, Frank O’Hara, Denise Levertov, Jack Spicer, Barbara Guest, Robert Creeley, Susan Howe, Pierre Joris, George Oppen, Joanne Kyger, Clark Coolidge, Omar PĂ©rez, hoax poetry, Kenneth Koch, Jonathan Williams, H. D., J.H. Prynne, humor in poetry, MallarmĂ©, and many others. Several issues have been collaborations with other (print) magazines. The latest issue, number 40, is over 1,200 pages long and growing. Jacket is free, and the contributors don’t get paid. In fact no one gets paid. That’s poetry.

I am delighted that Jacket has found new friends and a new home in 2011, and has moved holus bolus to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Jacket will flourish and grow there under the guidance of publisher Al Filreis and editors Michael S. Hennessey and Julia Bloch, and many other keen supporters.

Poet John Tranter has published more than twenty collections of verse. His collection Urban Myths: 210 Poems: New and Selected won lots of prizes. His latest book is Starlight: 150 Poems (UQP, 2010). He is the founding editor of the free Internet magazine Jacket (, the founder of the APRIL project ( and he has a homepage at