I struggled with this decision—it was not easy and I am embarrassed and disappointed in myself for taking so long to make it. You as readers and contributors deserved a more prompt and professional sunset to the journal. Boxcar has been a big part of my life for many years. In that respect, there was a part of me that was in denial, that held onto the belief that I could simply will myself to continue to carry the journal forward. Even as it became increasingly apparent that Boxcar needed to wind down, I still believed I could get one more issue out before closing. But as the months went by, I found that it was harder and harder to get back to reading submissions. As an editor, you never want to reach a point where you're reading submissions out of guilt, out of obligation, or out of fear of failure. You want to read every submission with the hope that it will be the one you publish --- but somehow, reading for Boxcar had become something of a chore, a time-consuming job that I was not being paid for. This was not a good sign - and the more I reflected on how I was struggling to get back to reading, the more I recognized that it was time to bring the project to an end.
When I started Boxcar in 2006, I was 32 and finishing up my MFA, and knew that I needed something to keep myself engaged in the literary world. It was from its inception a passion project. I felt that there was a need for a literary journal that not only published great poetry, but also published exclusively first book reviews. I was so passionate about this project that I published 6 issues a year for the first two years. I'm not certain I accomplished that - but by the second year of my Ph.D., I realized that I couldn't keep up with that pace and devote time to my studies. I tried to keep up with publishing quarterly and for the most part, did that. Near the end of my Ph.D. and after I graduated, I was getting too exhausted to manage that, so some years it was only 2 or 3 issues, occasionally a single issue, and a couple of years, none at all. I tried rebooting Boxcar in 2021 and managed one issue, but soon a number of things happened that upended that schedule. Not bad things. Just opportunities and responsibilities that introduced new demands on my time. I found myself serving on the boards of two different national writing organizations in Canada, as well as the Writer-in-Residence for the local public library system. My private practice as a writing coach and manuscript editor took off. Thanks to all this new work and opportunities, I paid off debts and got myself into a better place mentally and financially. All of these have been good developments - but also developments that require me to devote more time working with others on a regular basis, leaving less time to read poetry submissions. I continued to feel guilty about neglecting my duties with Boxcar, but also realized that after 15 years, my passion for the project was waning. It was time for a change - and time for me and Boxcar to part ways.Final Report
Over the 15 years of its existence, we were able to publish 41 issues containing 441 poems by 406 different poets, 68 reviews of first books, 52 interviews and conversations with first book poets, and 82 pieces of art/photography by 32 artists. For most of Boxcar's run, I served as the sole reader of all poetry submissions (at least 25,000 poems, perhaps as high as 36,000 poems) but was aided in later years by a number of volunteers.
- Interview Editor: Eduardo C. Corral
- Review Editor: Sara Toruno-Conley
- Art Editors: An Xiao Mina, Elaine Wang
- Social Media Editor: LeAnne Hunt
- Readers: Annette Wong, Asa Drake
To my wonderful editors and staff, thank you for all your service and attention, for your commitment to Boxcar over the years! We certainly would not have made it this far without you.The future of Boxcar Poetry Review
For now, the journal is closed and will no longer accept submissions. I have considered bringing in someone new to take over editorship. I thought about expanding our editorial team. But since Boxcar is an independent journal with no university or organizational affiliations, we have always been an unfunded project, which makes finding replacement staff difficult - we have nothing to offer editors for their time. I still haven't closed the door on this option, but I do want to take the time to find the right group of people to take over the journal. I have always been proud of the brilliant writers of color who have served as our staff and would like Boxcar Poetry Review to continue to be helmed by a team of diverse and open-minded writers. If you are interested in possibly taking over as editor, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know more about who you are, why you're interested, what prior experience with literary journals you have, and what is your vision for the journal.What will happen to the website and the issues that have already been published?
The website will remain up indefinitely. I don't mind paying the small fee to keep it up. Should a new editorial team take over, we'll figure out how to archive the original site and host the new site. I'm also exploring the possibility of releasing print versions of the issues' content: for poetry, either as a 2-volume anthology set or as a series of chapbooks replicating the individual issues, for the interviews, as a separate volume available via print-on-demand).What's on the horizon?
Although Boxcar Poetry Review is coming to an end, I'm still very interested in being involved with literary publishing. This year I'm launching Boxcar Chapbooks (www.boxcarchapbooks.com), a chapbook press. My goal is to publish 2-4 chapbooks a year, each with a print run of 150 copies and a digital chapbook option available as well. I've always been interested in chapbooks both as art objects and as ephemeral snapshots of the creative journeys of poets and writers. The idea of working on a physical material object, of designing and assembling something tangible, is deeply compelling to me. I'm excited to be working on this project and look forward to publishing a variety of poetry, flash fiction, and micro lyric essays. I'm also considering publishing some other smaller projects that fit the chapbook size.