E d i t o r 's N o t e
In December Verse-Virtual will be one year old. You probably don't know much about Verse-Virtual's first incarnation — if you know anything about it at all. So I'm going to tell you about it.
I started Verse-Virtual when I was a member of about five 'peer-review' poetry websites. Membership in these sites was an important stage in my development as a poet and as an editor. I was active in them for two or three years. Let me explain about peer-review poetry sites for those of you who aren't familiar with them.
They are websites where people post poems and others review them. The 'reviewers' are your peers, that is, people similar to you who are developing their skills in writing poetry. On these sites you can post any type of poem (within reason). Once you have posted a poem others review it. Then you reciprocate by reviewing one or more of their poems. And the cycle repeats.
The three top sites I belonged to were: Creative Poems, Poetry Pages, and Writers Cafe. I made a lot of Internet-friends by way of these sites.
One thing that is very good about peer-review sites is that they are communities. You develop bonds with others and support each other's poetry-writing efforts. Thus you gain confidence and you get invaluable experience in writing poetry.
After being a member of peer-review sites for some time I began to think that I could have a similar site of my own design. Thence Verse-Virtual.
For about six months Verse-Virtual was an unusual type of site -- a 'members-only' site. I chose the initial members from the peer-review sites to which I belonged. I invited those poets whose work not only appealed to me but in my opinion was worthy of a wider audience. I started with about ten members and gradually increased that number to about sixteen.
All went well. The poetry my chosen-members produced was incredible (sadly, I don't have real archives although I have most of the poems on my computer) and member-poets began to feel like a community. At this point Verse-Virtual was a closed system. I did seek new members -- but they had to meet certain criteria. It was difficult to decide who should be a member and who should not. There were some tough decisions to be made and I didn't always make the right ones.
The site was a prototype for this one. The format and layout were the same as they are now: no clutter, no fancy fonts, no ads, and so on. I tried to make the site 'poem-centered.' And I did well. But after five months I began to see that I could do more for more poets. So I changed Verse-Virtual into a more standard type of journal. It was a turning point.
Now I am adding some other changes — I will tell you about them in a future issue. But for now I have two main goals. The first is to publish poetry that is not only founded on both vision and technique — but poetry that is understandable and easy to read. My second goal is to build Verse-Virtual into a community of readers and writers which is characterized by friendship, consideration, and kindness.
For some of us, peer-review sites are an important and growthful step toward developing confidence and gaining experience as a writer. I am thankful that I was a member of some very good ones. Not only because of personal matters — but also because those peer-review sites were essential to the conception and genesis of Verse-Virtual.