Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

An Intro Note

by Alexis Rhone Fancher [Guest Poetry Editor]

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” the late, great poet, Steve Kowit, put into the Subject line of an email he wrote me in February of 2015. I had submitted several poems to Serving House Journal (SHJ) months before, and Steve was apologizing for “having lost them somewhere on [his] desk.” The venerable Steve Kowit, apologizing to me! I was instantly smitten, taken by his humility, his ability to put people at ease.

Actually, I’d fallen in love with Steve Kowit decades before, when I first read his poems in Sy Safransky’s The Sun magazine. I’d never read anyone like Steve, his poems so deceptively simple, so brilliantly human. Our paths finally crossed in early 2015, when Steve accepted six of my poems for SHJ. I thanked him by sending him a copy of my first book. He responded by sending me twelve of his books, each one personally made out to me. Steve was like that, his over-the-top kindness and generosity matched only by the enormity of his talent.

I’m honored to have been asked by SHJ editors Clare MacQueen and Duff Brenna to be guest poetry editor for SHJ-17. It’s been a terrific experience. We had a huge number of submissions; I read hundreds of poems to arrive at the 50 published in this issue, all of them read blind. I prefer reading that way, with no identifying information accompanying the poem, no preconceptions, no expectations, other than to be wowed. The poems I selected for this issue were all “wows.” I’d like to think Steve Kowit would have thought so, too.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury