Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lynx Magazine Has Published Its Final Issue

Lynx Magazine

I have learned that Lynx Magazine, after a run of close to 30 years, has published its last issue.  Most poetry magazines are ephemera; some last for only a few issues, others for a few years.  30 years is a good run.

The ending of publication for Lynx brings back to me many memories.  I began Lynx back in the mid-80’s.  At its inception it was called ‘APA-Renga’.  ‘APA’ stood for ‘Amateur Press Association’.  In the mid-80’s the internet was just on the verge of becoming widespread, but it hadn’t become the dominant means of communication at that time.  It was just about to, but not quite.  ‘APAs’ were a group of publications which were subscriber written.  Most of them had a topical focus, though a few were more like diaries.  Many of them started out in Sci-Fi fandom and were focused on a particular author or type of science fiction or fantasy. 

APAs worked by having a central collator.  Members of the APAs sent in their contributions, with copies.  The collator then collated the submissions, but did no editing.  Then the collator would send out the collection on whatever schedule was set for the APA.  Most of the APAs had a small membership; they rarely rose to 30. 

APA-Renga followed the procedures of a standard APA.  People would submit an opening verse (hokku) for a renga.  I would then copy this and send it out to all the participants on a regular schedule.  Participants would then respond to the verse, or not.  I would then add the responses and send them out in turn.  Then people would respond to the second verses, as they felt inspired.  If no one responded to a verse, it dropped out of the next issue.

This meant that all of the renga branched out with many alternative paths stemming from each opening verse.  This was completely non-traditional and experimental.  It was also a lot of fun.

I was only able to run APA-Renga for about two years.  Life suddenly became very complicated and I was unable to find the time to continue with the publication.  Fortunately, Terri Lee Grell stepped forward and agreed to take over the publication.  It was Grell who changed the name from APA-Renga to Lynx.  She also added reviews and, if I recall correctly, some regular renga to the mix.

Terri’s life, in turn, became complicated (life is like that!) and after about another 2 or 3 years passed along Lynx to Jane and Werner Reichhold.  Jane and Werner quickly moved Lynx to the internet and Lynx became an online publication.  Both Jane and Werner recognized quite early the potential for online poetry publication.

Over the next 20 years Jane and Werner faithfully published Lynx four times a year.  They added more reviews, more explorations of poetic form, and increased the space devoted to other forms such as ghazals and tanka.  At some point, I can’t remember exactly when, interest in this branching style of renga waned.  I believe this is because knowledge of the standard form became more widespread and people wanted to shift their attention to a more traditional approach.  Jane and Werner made the decision to drop the participation branch renga and continue with Lynx as an online publication focused on a mixture of reviews, thought pieces, and poetry. 

It is amazing to me that Jane and Werner were able to keep up the pace for so long.  It was a huge effort and contributed greatly to the online poetry world in general, and to those interested in Japanese poetic forms in particular.  To Jane and Werner – many thanks for your decades of dedicated work.