I've edited many literary journals over the years, but the one I hold dearest is where I first cut my editorial teeth: Painted Bride Quarterly.
One of the longest-running literary journals in the country, Painted Bride Quarterly began in the early 1970s as a small indie operation and changed hands every few years. From those first issues, PBQ began a run that is quite remarkable to this day. It's now based at Drexel University in Philadelphia, and I am proud to have played a small part of its story.
I think I realized just how small I was in PBQ's history until I worked on the PBQ Archive, where we scanned each and every issue, made PDF files of them, and posted them all online.
With Richard Eoin Nash, later my publisher at Soft Skull Press, consulting us, and Thomas Israel Hopkins, a superfab fiction writer, manning the HTML wheels of steel, the Archive project was a modest attempt to share the history of PBQ with the world.
I've been a huge--some might say psycho--fan of John Giorno ever since I saw him perform poems in Ron Mann's seminal 1982 documentary Poetry in Motion. I interviewed him for Nerve a couple years ago, and got to visit his flat on the Bowery: the spare room where William S. Burroughs died, his neighbor the abstract painted Michael Goldberg (perhaps most notable to BAP readers for his mention in Frank O'Hara's "Why I Am Not a Painter").
So imagine my surprise when, perusing Temple University Library's special collections, I find this Giorno-dedicated issue. The booklength piece's title is NSFW, but check out the issue here.
Finally, one issue of the Archive where I figure into the story, albeit in a very small way. One of PBQ's most legendary issues is the 1988 double-volume dedicated to poet Etheridge Knight. There's poems and pieces from Robert Bly, Galway Kinnell, Aafa Weaver, and Gwendolyn Brooks.
Now, to make PDFs of these issues, they need to be torn apart to be scanned--"guillotined" is the industry term. There's some poetic quality to it: In order for an issue to live on, one copy must die. When we sent off the issue to be scanned, however, I mistakenly sent off my own copy of the Etheridge Knight issue, one that I had signed by Gwendolyn Brooks at a fundraiser reading when I was an editor back in 1994.
Pretty neat, huh?