For more than half a century, Hanging Loose has championed the work of authors marginalized by mainstream publishing—work frequently less visible, whether because of gender, race, age, class or socioeconomic status.
We continue today, in pursuit of this mission, to look for ways of broadening our creative and cultural scope—for example:
- We turn over one section of each magazine issue to a different guest editor— distinguished writers to whom we give free rein in their selection of writers to feature. They choose for the magazine the work of exciting writers, some of whom we may not even be aware of.
- In collaboration with Queens College, CUNY, we offer the annual Loose Translation Prize—publication of a book translated by a student in the Creative Writing and Translation MFA program. This innovative program opens us and our reader to exciting international voices in new translations.
- We have recently introduced our Founders Award, to recognize and publish annually a first book of poems, in honor of Emmett Jarrett, Ron Schreiber, and Robert Hershon, the three of our four founding editors now deceased, in honor of their dedication to HL.
- For fifty-four years, each issue of the magazine has incorporated a section devoted to the writing of talented high school writers. This feature has been widely celebrated: although young adults have many opportunities to be published in journals focused on their own age group, HL is, as far as we know, the only magazine that regularly offers them wider exposure to poetry readers of all ages. This section has produced four highly praised anthologies of student work: Smart Like Me, Bullseye, Shooting the Rat and When We Were Countries.
We at HL remain committed, through these and other efforts, to our vision and our mission.
The first issue of Hanging Loose magazine was published in 1966. The name was inspired by the format — mimeographed loose pages in a cover envelope — and that, in turn, was inspired by a very low budget. But the format was also meant to get across a point of view: that poetry is for now, not for the Ages, and that poetry is for everyone. If you liked a poem, you could pin it to the wall. If you didn’t like a poem, you could use it as a napkin.
The first issue of HL contained work by Denise Levertov, John Gill, Jack Anderson, Victor Contoski and other poets who would remain close to the magazine. The editors agreed that they were not interested in begging poems from famous writers but that they wanted to stress work by underrepresented writers whose work deserved a larger audience.
Effective with the 25th issue, to the relief of many libraries and bookstores, the editors decided the loose-page format had served its purpose and revamped the format of the publication. The number of pages began to grow and the magazine was bound. The new format was friendlier to fiction and each issue began featuring portfolios of work by a single artist or photographer.
As a press, the editors are proud of having published many first books, including the first full collections by Sherman Alexie, Kimiko Hahn, D. Nurkse, Jack Agüeros, Cathy Park Hong, Eula Biss, Joanna Fuhrman, Hayan Charara, Maggie Nelson, Indran Amirthanayagam, R. Zamora Linmark, and Beth Bosworth, among others. And writers published over the years by HL also include Harvey Shapiro, Elizabeth Swados, Joan Larkin, Gary Lenhart, Maureen Owen, Donna Brook, Ha Jin, Charles North, Paul Violi, Tony Towle, William Corbett, Ed Friedman, and Jayne Cortez. The young writers who first emerged from our high school section include Caroline Hagood, Joanna Fuhrman, Donovan Hohn, Meghan O’Rourke and Rebecca Wolff.
Hanging Loose has been grateful for support by many contributors over the years, chief among them the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council for the Arts, and the Fund for Poetry. HL books have won such honors as the Theodore Roethke Memorial Prize, The Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award and the Paterson Poetry Prize. Hanging Loose has published more than 220 books and 114 issues — well over 10,000 pages of poetry, prose, and art — of Hanging Loose magazine.
Dick Lourie is one of the four founding editors (1966) of Hanging Loose. He has edited more than one hundred HL books; his own most recent collection, Jam Session, brings together his experiences as a poet and a blues musician.
Mark Pawlak joined HL as an editor in 1980. He is the author of nine poetry collections and the memoir, My Deniversity: Knowing Denise Levertov (MadHat Press, 2021). His work has been translated into German, Japanese, Spanish, and Polish.
Caroline Hagood is Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Writing at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. Her writing appears in numerous journals; her books include Lunatic Speaks, Making Maxine’s Baby, Ways of Looking at a Woman, and Ghosts of America.
Jiwon Choi is a Brooklyn poet, early childhood educator, and urban gardener. She teaches at the non-profit Educational Alliance. Her two poetry collections are One Daughter is Worth Ten Sons and I Used To Be Korean.
Joanna Fuhrman teaches Creative Writing at Rutgers. Her work has been published in many journals, including the Pushcart Prize Anthology (2011). She is the author of six full-length poetry collections, five of which have been published by Hanging Loose, most recently To A New Era.
Robert Hershon (1936–2021), founding editor.
Emmett Jarrett (1939–2010), founding editor.
Ron Schreiber (1934–2004), founding editor.
Elizabeth Hershon is a New York City painter and ceramic artist. Hanging Loose has published both her artwork and her poetry. She teaches three-year-olds at a Brooklyn preschool, where she focuses on science and literacy.
Keri Smith has an MFA in Poetry from the New School. Her first book of poetry, Dragging Anchor, was published by Hanging Loose Press in 2018. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and her chihuahua.
Thomas Moody currently lives in Sydney, Australia, where he is impatiently awaiting the reopening of borders so he can return to his home in Brooklyn.