Contemporary Verse 2 (CV2) is a nationally celebrated poetry publication, respected for its mélange of contributors and styles. The magazine’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of a seemingly limitless literary form sets it apart from other outlets. The magazine is pushing 40 years old and yet remains as contemporary as ever, constantly striving to provide diverse content in print.
Poetry Lives Here is Contemporary Verse 2’s youth edition, which gives authors aged 15 to 25 the opportunity to showcase their talents, as well as get their foot in the door of the larger community of Canadian literature.
According to John Stintzi, co-ordinator of the project, Poetry Lives Here is about encouraging young people to write, but also about making something that influences young people to read poetry by giving them an accessible gateway through reading the poetry of their peers.
The Manitoban: Your mandate claims that the respect for your publication is founded on its commitment to a diverse range of poetry. What does diversity mean to you?
Stintzi: Poetry from a wide range of cultural positions, in a variety of styles [ . . . ] our Winter 2014 issue was called “Forces to Bear: The Reculturalization of Canadian Poetry,” and explored the ways that Canadian poetry has been affected by “non-dominant cultures” in Canada.
But more broadly, poetry is inherently diverse in its lack of a definitive structure, so it’s hard not to be diverse when it comes to publishing poetry. But CV2 itself likes to take risks when it comes to what poetry it publishes. We tend to feature newer writers, or even some more experimental styles that might not be quite perfected yet, but are interesting nonetheless.
M: How does that factor in when you’re dealing with young artists who haven’t necessarily had as much opportunity to cultivate and hone their own voice?
Stintzi: The writing of young people is a different kind of ‘diverse,’ I think. Our concerns (speaking as a young person) and our perspective on life are largely different than writers who have been writing or publishing for many years.
Young people also differ more in our fearlessness. I think when you’re young, you write things that you’d be terrified to write when you get older, be it too personal or just too bizarre, or silly. Young people are a hell of a lot freer to try new things.
M: Why does CV2 think it’s important to feature young writers?
Stintzi: Because young people have things to say, oftentimes wonderfully wise things said in wonderfully strange ways, and they are largely not heard.
M: What kind of opportunity and experience does your publication provide for youth?
Stintzi: It gives young people a chance to have their work be seriously considered amongst the work of their peers, and the chance to have their work be professionally published and distributed nationwide. We have editors—who are young poets themselves—who will be going through the submissions and piecing together the supplement.
So it gives talented young people a place to really test themselves in a much more forgiving environment than submitting to a larger magazine whose readership, and writership, is largely 30+ [ . . . ] also, we really want to be able to pay the young poets who get their work featured [ . . . ] so it will give young poets an opportunity to make some money from their work.
But in the end I just can’t stress enough that this isn’t just about the writers, it’s about the readers too. Young people write what only they can, and oftentimes their work can connect with other young people much better than the work of other, older writers.
For more information, check out the Indiegogo campaign for Poetry Lives Here