Underground poets are about to roar.
Street Poet Review, a new online journal being launched by Damian Rucci in February, will let them roar as loud as they want. The goal is to give a voice to those who are currently silenced by existing journals. Rucci understands their silence because his work has been silenced many times as well.
This will be the first foray into running a journal for Rucci, but he gained valuable experience as the poetry editor for the winter issue of Blue Mountain Review.
“I’m looking forward to digging my feet in,” said Rucci. “I found being an editor both challenging and rewarding, and now I’m looking to bring many fantastic important voices that often don’t receive the kudos they deserve.”
Street Poet Review will publish poems, essays on poetry/poets/poems, interviews, and chapbooks reviews. The journal will have no particular angle. Rucci says he’s simply looking for poems that speak to him - “poems that are strong and fearless; poems that are unapologetically original.”
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Taking advantage of the online medium, Street Poet Review will utilize a blog-based approach and feature new poems appearing on a rolling basis. Rucci hopes to publish 3-5 poems a week, along with essays, interviews, and reviews. The journal will be available for free and Rucci says there will never be any submission fees.
“The term ‘street poet’ has been used for almost a century in the UK and USA to refer to various poetry movements that have existed largely outside of academia and written by the working class,” explained Rucci. “With Street Poet Review, I’m hoping to create a venue for such poems and to further do my part within the poetry community. The poet Jericho Brown said once during an interview, that poetry is the only art form where everyone within it does something to push it forward or something like that.”
“A real Underground poetry scene has begun to blossom in the United States and I have been fortunate to be involved in it and to have met some of its leading voices,” he continued. “The internet has paved the way in uniting the many smaller poetry scenes and these poets are just as important as their academic peers and need more exposure to broader audience.”
Rucci, who has been writing as long as he can remember, says he has been thinking of doing something like this for a long time. He credits fellow poets Charles Joseph and Brandon Diehl (who were both heavily involved in the Lehigh Valley and New Jersey poetry scene with Rucci) as inspiring him to take the leap. Both previously launched projects of their own with Joseph creating Indigent Press a la Carte and Diehl creating Philosophical Idiot.
A website for Street Poet Review was under development at the time of the article, but Rucci has been building excitement for the journal with the Twitter account @streetpoetrw and initial reactions have been overwhelmingly positive.
“I have been surprised at the outpouring of support for this project as I have yet to really put energy into promoting it,” said Rucci. “I think people are hungry for real and they’re going to get it.”
Rucci grew up in the Bayshore area between West Keansburg and Keyport. He said poetry took on a more serious tone for him in 2015 after he was struck by a car and witnessed the fear of death. His favorite poets always change, but the late Victor Smith is always at the top of his list. Smith was involved in the Kansas City scene and passed away a few years back. Spartan Press published a collection of his work posthumously called Burning Down Oz From the Inside. Rucci honors his memory as the Twitter avatar for the journal, saying, “I feel like no one since Bob Kaufman has embodied the spirit of a street poet like Victor Smith did.”
“The problem is that the word /poetry/ has become a dirty word to the last two generations,” added Rucci. “I think this is largely due to the way poetry has been taught. Many public schools only focus on the classics which can appear esoteric and boring to newer readers.”
With Street Poet Review, Rucci plans on doing his part to change those views.