Position: Editor, Poetry
Organization: Poetry Foundation
Location: Chicago, IL
Reporting Relationship: President
The Poetry Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer that meets ADA requirements
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to serving poets and the art of poetry. It exists to discover and celebrate poetry and make it more accessible to audiences everywhere. The Foundation aspires to develop new audiences for poetry, create new avenues for delivery, and encourage deeper engagement with the art form.
Established in 2003 as a private operating foundation upon receipt of a major gift from philanthropist Ruth Lilly, the Poetry Foundation evolved from the Modern Poetry Association, which was founded in 1941 to support the publication of Poetry magazine. The gift allowed the Poetry Foundation to expand the presence of poetry in the United States and to fund Poetry magazine and the mission of the Foundation.
The Poetry Foundation is housed in Chicago in a building designed by architect John Ronan. In addition to the award-winning magazine, the Poetry Foundation maintains one of the world’s largest collections of poetry both digitally and within its library, produces podcasts and poetry videos, hosts poetry readings and annual awards, provides teacher trainings and workshops, and hosts off-site events.
As the Poetry Foundation looks to the future, the organization is focused on proactively nurturing an inclusive culture after a year of significant learning, growth, and change. On May 4, 2021, after a national search, Michelle T. Boone began her tenure as Poetry Foundation president. She is the first woman and first African American ever appointed in this role and joins the team and board leadership in creating an equitable system that fosters dignity and integrity, building trust with staff, partners, community members, and poets, and continuing to manage Poetry Foundation resources in a way that will perpetually benefit poets and the art of poetry.
Michelle Boone Joins Poetry Foundation as President
One Year Update - Racial Justice Equity and Inclusion Commitment
Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest English-language monthly devoted to verse. Harriet Monroe’s “Open Door” policy, set forth in volume 1 of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry’s mission: to welcome poets and poems in all their variety—including a wide range of styles, regions, and approaches. The magazine has presented—often for the first time—works by many of the most celebrated poets of the 20th and 21st centuries. The full archive of the magazine is available online for free.
Poetry has always been independent and unaffiliated with any single poetic movement, critical approach, or aesthetic school. It continues to publish established, award-winning poets alongside emerging talents from around the world. In recent years, nearly half of the authors published in the magazine have been writers appearing for the first time.
In addition to the award-winning print publication, Poetry works with a talented digital team to reach and engage a broad audience. Through its website, blog, podcast, and social media, Poetry seeks to encourage new readers of poetry, serve existing poetry fans, and support Foundation initiatives and programs.
The Editor will work collaboratively with the Foundation President, Board of Trustees, and staff, as well as stakeholders, poets, and educators, to ensure Poetry magazine is meeting the needs of the audiences and artists it serves. As a member of the Poetry Foundation team, the Editor, in addition to all staff, is expected to uphold the values of equity and inclusion and ensure the goals of operating as an antiracist organization are embedded in all aspects of management, programming, and operations.
The new Editor must provide clear direction and leadership, while also fostering a culture of collaboration and openness among magazine staff and across the Foundation. The Editor must be equally adept at serving on the ground as a hands-on partner to staff and poets as they are crafting forward-thinking strategies to address the priorities of the magazine.
A successful candidate should see editing as an act of facilitation in service to poets, readers, and the poetry community. There will be ample opportunity to bring in new ideas on how to share the editing process with the magazine readers and the general public.
The critical focus areas within the magazine team include continued creativity and innovation, driving action through consensus and inclusivity, and contributing to the positive trajectory and growth of the Poetry Foundation as a whole. Developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and thinking about poetry beyond the page will be an essential part of this role.
The next Editor will be responsible for drafting, executing, and managing the strategic direction of Poetry magazine to sustain and progress Poetry’s mission, vision, and values. The Editor will concurrently lead a team, execute a comprehensive strategy to continue the impactful work of the magazine, and oversee the business and financial aspects of the magazine.
Specific responsibilities will include, but will not be limited to the following:
- Hold Poetry to the highest literary standards, seeking to publish diverse new voices alongside already well established and distinguished authors.
- Work with a fast-paced monthly publishing deadline to ensure timely delivery of online and print content.
- Engage team members as fellow decision makers—soliciting input on content, team structure, and outreach.
- Collaborate with foundation staff in other divisions such as marketing, programming, the library, digital, and education.
- Identify alignment, cross-promotion, and programming opportunities by working with guest editors and other poets/writers on issues, portfolios, events, and other projects.
- Partner with the magazine marketing team to measure and track marketing initiatives and magazine content through audience engagement and feedback.
- Listen to, absorb, and effectively respond to suggestions and criticisms related to the magazine.
- Promote a staff culture of integrity, inclusivity, high performance, and meaningful collaboration that values learning and commitment to quality and equity.
Executive Leadership & Strategic Vision
- As a member of the Foundation President’s executive/senior team, the Editor is an active thought partner in implementing the organization's mission and goals. This includes ensuring the work presented in Poetry reflects the Foundation’s institutional values, policies, culture, and history, and is considerate of key partners and stakeholders, programs, finances, and strategic planning efforts.
- Align the magazine with the strategic organizational changes occurring within the Foundation as it transitions into the next phase of growth.
- Engage with the larger Foundation, including staff and board members, to elevate the overall mission of the Foundation.
- Foster a spirit of collaboration between the editorial and digital teams to develop forward-thinking strategic approaches to presenting poetry across digital/multimedia channels.
- Ensure the Board of Trustees has a holistic and accurate understanding of the magazine’s purpose, and how it fits within and serves the greater Foundation.
- Collaborate with the President, the Board, and the staff to build alignment around direction and priorities for the magazine.
- Lead by example in seeking out supplemental cultural competency trainings as a senior leader in the organization.
- Be comfortable with public speaking, presenting, and representing the Foundation and Poetry magazine externally with media inquiries, conferences and other industry-related events as required or requested.
Operations & Financial Management
- Oversee the development and ongoing processes of the Poetry magazine budget and other financial materials.
- Keep the President and the Board informed of Poetry’s challenges, opportunities, progress, and activities, providing accurate reports and annual budget to the Board.
- Ensure optimum allocation of resources to make the magazine run as efficiently and effectively as possible.
- With the CFO and President, participate in the planning and budgeting process to maintain a sound financial basis, supporting both short-term and long-term needs and objectives.
- In partnership with leadership and staff, enact crisis plans as needed which may include working with staff to cover extended hours or an on-call response team.
- Promote productive and effective staff performance, providing guidance, feedback, and opportunities for professional development at all levels.
A Day in the Life of Poetry’s Editor
In addition to the responsibilities outlined above, Poetry’s Editor will have the opportunity to impact the Poetry Foundation, magazine team, and audiences in a variety of ways. In a typical day, the Editor may do the following:
- Lead weekly editorial meetings to discuss upcoming issues, logistics, and special projects.
- Nurture talent of staff and support the well-being and growth of team members.
- Work with the editorial team, staff, board, and community to reimagine magazine processes and structures to align with our commitments to antiracism.
- Oversee submission processes and guidelines, including reading and commenting on submissions with the editorial board, readers, and magazine staff.
- Develop, write, and record bi-weekly magazine podcasts in coordination with the podcast producer and editing team.
- Write and edit Editor’s Notes and blog posts in coordination with editorial team
- Review and suggest poem and prose edits in collaboration with editorial team.
- Develop upcoming covers with Art Director.
- Review budget with Managing Editor.
- As the next issue comes together and in coordination with the Editorial Assistant, add or subtract content to meet page count.
- Collaborate with digital team on multimedia presentations of poetry and alignment with web-exclusive features.
- Develop new ways to foster and deepen relationships that support poets and other poetry organizations in a wide array of literary communities.
- Respond to requests regarding pitches, partnerships, contributors, and other queries.
- Collaborate with guest editors and other poets/writers on issues, portfolios, community events, national and international events, and other projects.
- Discuss magazine marketing initiatives and results with media/marketing team.
- With media team, respond to local, national, and international media inquiries.
- Attend monthly cross-departmental meetings to address Foundation-wide issues, share out programmatic work, and report back to magazine staff.
A successful candidate will bring passion, enthusiasm, and vision for the Poetry Foundation mission. They will embody a deep knowledge and love of poetry and have substantial editorial experience; while we would love candidates to have experience working with a publication of similar audience reach, we also value experience from variously complex publications and teams.
The Editor will be an excellent communicator, strategic thinker, and a proven leader who will foster harmony, camaraderie, and cooperation among the magazine team. We understand candidates may not possess all of the below qualities, but we encourage those with a significant number of these strengths to apply.
Desired qualifications and leadership characteristics include:
- Substantial experience in editorial positions with progressively increasing responsibility.
- An understanding of poetry and the poetry community.
- A thorough understanding of business principles involved in the execution of a literary magazine including strategic planning, budgeting, and the coordination/collaboration of people and resources.
- Knowledge of and interest in working with both print and online publishing and finding ways to increase the visibility of the magazine in both mediums.
- Comfortable working with editorial boards, literary patrons, publishers, and authors to navigate conflict and various perspectives, and incorporate feedback.
- Experience with shared, non-hierarchical leadership models and the ability to work through editorial conflicts with co-editors.
- Demonstrable ability to thrive in a fast-paced, highly visible environment with a large volume of content and firm deadlines.
- Identify and meet the needs of a changing media landscape while promoting writing across all disciplines on new platforms.
- Excellent copy editing, proofreading, and written communication skills.
- Strong public speaking skills, and the ability to represent the Poetry Foundation with the media, the public, and the Board of Trustees.
- Keen ability to develop relationships with existing and new partners and communities of artists.
- Commitment to continuing and expanding the antiracism and inclusivity of the Foundation and Poetry magazine.
- Unquestionable ethics, integrity, transparency, and accountability in all actions.
- A high degree of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, warmth, approachability, and humility.
- Commitment to continuous self and organizational improvement.
Bachelor’s degree, or in lieu of a degree, an equivalent combination of education and directly relevant experience will be considered.
Compensation package commensurate with experience, with a salary range of $175,000 - $200,000 plus health and retirement benefits.
Interested and qualified candidates are encouraged to submit a resume and cover letter to: PoetryFoundationEditor@KornFerry.com
Commitment to Equal Employment Opportunity
The Poetry Foundation provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type with regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local laws.
This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.
The Poetry Foundation building is situated on the occupied original homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: The Ojibwe, Potowatami, and Odowa Nations, among other Indigenous nations. Indigenous people continue to live here today, and Chicago is home to one of the largest urban Indigenous communities in the United States. We recognize that some of us are settlers on colonized land and that this land acknowledgment is one small part of disrupting and dismantling the colonial structures in which we are living.