It is with regret, trepidation, and a good deal of satisfaction that I announce the closing of River City Poetry for online submissions.
DEAR READERS & POETS
In 2015, I experienced some personal and professional success–my second chapbook, Anatomy of a Sea Star, was the Summer feature for Cinco de Hermanes press; I moved educational institutions for my day job; and I was asked to participate in an art ekphrastic exchange for a regional museum. All 3 of those things coalesced and planted a seed: I wanted to create a community-based publication that would celebrate and support the local and regional writers. We’d focus on poets only–and the chapbook specifically–and we’d find ways to create community that would showcase talent, especially if we could find ways to cross-pollinate with other disciplines and creative practices.
There were some important restrictions to my vision: I was a working mom with a demanding day job. I didn’t yet have any specific money (nor did I understand the difference between nonprofit and LLC). I had never created a web-site or even done much more than occasionally post for a blog. I was currently an editor for a working publication supported by the Kansas Association for Teachers of English, and I had been a managing editor for several years of my college publication, Mikrokosmos. So I knew what a traditional publication felt like. But I wanted something different, and I know at the inception I was genuinely feeling my way through what an online publication might look like.
River City Poetry has been such a labor of love and joy. By 2016, I had a working knowledge of managing wordpress, support from a community excited for what I wanted to build, and had written and received my first grant. I called it the Season of Yes. For our first issue, I reached out to some talented poets–some with far more acclaim and talent–and they all submitted work or were pivotal in spreading the word about our reading period.
When I was ready to plan my first big event, a weekend Poetry gathering, I found a venue AND organizational coaching through Harvester Arts. When I say it was a Season of Yes, I mean every single person I approached about some event I wanted to produce or some chapbook I wanted to review, every single person said yes. And these yesses led to other yesses, other unique opportunities.
I am so proud of the body of work that has been created, of the submissions that we’ve showcased, of the events that have celebrated poetry and the arts. Throughout the years, I’ve never stopped being a poet, or a mother, or a teacher. Even three years ago, I was able to maintain my equilibrium and balance. I truly thrived on the deadlines and the demands. And somehow, through the busy-ness, I was also able to maintain my own writing practice.
But like many, Pandemic has not left me unscathed. I’ve lost family, colleagues, dear poetry friends. As a public school teacher in the largest high school in the state, I’ve been asked, over and over again, to modify my job parameters, to meet every new expectation, to master every new technology. I’m so grateful that my children and my family are healthy and have been mostly safe through this. But so many in our community have not. And while the classroom has returned to a mostly normal setting, the psychic exchange of emotional energy has been draining. I’ve been teaching for seventeen years. I have never seen or felt anything like it. And yet I still want to teach–what can I say: the kids make me laugh.
Now to be even more transparent than I’m comfortable with: I also stopped writing. At first, I wrote a little; I journaled and wrote future letters to my daughters. River City Poetry had a POWERFUL issue focused on June 2020, and that gave me energy and inspired me. But by fall, I was knee-deep in remote teaching, quarantine, masks, and lots and lots of screen time.
Last fall (COVID time is so weird), I chose to move River City Poetry into a sabbatical. I needed the opportunity to regroup, to consider how we might want to move forward. We had shut down community workshops, broadside activities, and submissions.
In January 2022, I caught the Omicron variant of COVID. We were supposed to be entering a Reading Period for River City. I was supposed to be mapping out a group of readers for chapbook reviews. Honestly, the list of personal and professional demands does not bear repeating. Suffice it to say that I was reminded, quite forcefully, that I can’t do everything. I needed to think very carefully about what I was putting back onto my plate when my energy and my stamina were so much less–are so much less.
Thankfully, my illness was minor.
But my burn-out is not.
I have focussed for so long on supporting community, I have forgotten to focus on my own work and my own development as a writer. My first full-length book was released in the fall of 2019. Since then, I’ve written very little of substance for my own work. I submitted absolutely no work in 2021.
I can’t keep trying to do everything. And in an effort to protect my own mental health, I need to realize that continuing this labor of love out of guilt or obligation will only spoil the experience for so many.
I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned in producing River City. For the next few months, I’ll be archiving issues and moving things over to my personal website for permanent storage. The website and URL will remain active through the summer. There are so many people to thank for all of their love and support over the years, and even now, for their support in making this decision to close down online operations.
Thank you for supporting poets. Thank you for supporting River City Poetry.
Sincerely, April Pameticky
Our reviewers consist of managing editor April Pameticky, Raylyn Clacher, and Roy Beckemeyer. For further queries or questions about our selection process, email rivercitypoetrysubmissions [@] gmail.com
As part of our mission to serve our poetry and art community, River City Poetry sponsors the Wichita Broadside Project, a poster project pairing artists and poets together in the creation of new work that can be displayed around our community.
Older issues of River City Poetry are available as downloadable PDFs through our RCP Archive.