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Note From The Editor

Home | Submissions | Selected Poets | Books/Chapbooks | Books/Chapbooks 2




In Ryan G. Van Cleave’s book Contemporary American Poetry, he gives this advice to any writer willing to take it:

"Part of being a writer is realizing that you’re part of a community. The next time you run across a poem that really strikes you as wonderful write a letter to the poet c/o his or her book publisher or journal the poem appeared in or through the university where they teach. Don’t just write a fan letter, but talk specifically about the elements of the poem that really captured your interest. Send it to them. Try doing this once a month to remind yourself that you’re part of a community, but do this because the poet you’re writing to might find in you a kindred spirit and suddenly you’ve got a writing friend for life, a wonderful thing. If a poet doesn’t respond, down the road when you receive your first letter in response to one of your poems, remember what it felt like for your letter to go unanswered. Remember that as a writer you’re always part of a community."

In 1999, I first read Ryan’s poems in the Amherst Review, and for the next two years I searched for his poems and books. One day I finally wrote to him, and to my surprise he wrote back, grateful for receiving my letter and warm in his response. We’ve been corresponding ever since.

It’s because of Ryan’s response that allowed me the courage to reach out to other poets and writers, namely Ellen Dor Watson, who has been instrumental in the development of my own writing.

I’ve often dreamt of the opportunity of when I could have all those poets and writers that I’ve been lucky to meet over the years in the same room. We’d compliment the cheese and wine (what else,) and then I’d introduce R. to W. and C. to M. and once the conversations reach their peaks I’d slip out onto the balcony to enjoy a cognac and the happy voices from inside.

Unfortunately, all these writers live across the country and of course are very busy, which is just as well considering my apartment is too small for more than two, and I’d be far too paranoid that someone would step on the cat’s tail to socialize, even if I wasn’t by nature a recluse.

This is why I started Big Toe Review. It only made sense that the first installment featured the work of Ryan G. Van Cleave and Ellen Dor Watson. The goals are simple: to introduce writers to other writers and readers, and to support the work of the writers I have enjoyed over the years. This is why I chose to produce a web magazine rather than a printer magazine. I can reach twice as many readers and writers as I ever could with a printed magazine, and it allows a subscription to Big Toe Review, and advertisement for chapbooks and books to be free.

I hope you enjoy the poems and prose poems you find here. I hope you see names you’re familiar with and names you will remember when you leave the site. Please visit the Chapbook/Book page. I have personally read every book featured and recommend them strongly. Relax. Stay awhile. Enjoy the cheese and wine.


Joshua Michael Stewart,