What’s going on with Pre-existing Poems?

Hi, folks! Long time no see.

It’s been almost a year since the first mad rush of Pre-existing poems happened. As you might remember, this site was founded in order to express opposition to the American Health Care Act which was introduced in Congress last spring. You can click here for some quick information about the bill. With everything that has happened in the United States politically since then, the message of affordable and equitable healthcare for all has gotten swallowed amidst so many other important issues. I’ve spent most of the past year writing on LGBT+ rights issues, for example. Since last summer, we’ve seen the rise of the #metoo and #timesup movement, as well as the astounding leadership of our nation’s schoolchildren on gun violence and school shootings. In their own ways, all of these major issues are also deeply related to healthcare, which is a part of why I’ve been planning on reinvigorating this site. However, I cannot do it alone.

First and foremost, joining me in this project will be Stephanie O’Connell. Stephanie is a writer based in Pennsylvania with an MA in English who studied with me during our undergraduate careers. We met up last month to discuss in person our visions for the potential of this site, and we realized there’s so much more we’d like to be able to do together toward the conversation of healthcare in the United States and in the world. We’ll both be accessible at preexistingpoems@gmail.com for any questions regarding the site, and all submissions going forward should be directed toward this account as well.

Secondly, I found last year that the burst format, wherein people submitted poems and I managed to get them posted quickly (usually within a day or two) provided for a fun and exciting environment, but that the energy quickly burnt out after about a month and a half of continuous submissions. As the healthcare situation left the news, it left peoples’ minds as an important topic of discussion. What we would like to do is to recapture that initial energy for short bursts of activity biannually. So, while we will be open to submissions year-round, we will publish them in rapid succession during the summer (June/July) and winter (January/February). At the end of each session, we’ll compile a master post with links to everything we posted, like a volume of a magazine.

Our publication guidelines are not changing much, but will grow a little to include more types of artistic expression than just poetry. Last year, we were able to publish an audio recording of a spoken word poem alongside the text of that poem, and I would like to be able to do more projects like that. I’d like to be able to accommodate visual art as well as the written (or spoke) word. The only major guideline is theme: medical conditions and healthcare.

The third thing needed to get Pre-existing Poems going again: you. We need your support and we need your submissions, and we need you to share this site with your friends.

Pre-existing Poems was never meant to be a standard literary journal, but more so a poetry collective of similar-minded artists speaking toward an oft-forgotten socio-political issue through their lived experiences. Over half of what we accepted last year dealt with mental health issues, and people have reached out to me to say that those poems helped them cope with their own mental health struggles. At its heart, Pre-existing Poems wants to be like an online consciousness raising related to healthcare issues. In order to keep being that, we’re going be pushing the format of the site closer to an online journal or magazine, but we’ll still be a place that’s not concerned about artistic skill or perfection in favor of writing and art that is honest and that engages with health issues. We don’t care if you’ve published twelve books of poems or if you’re twelve years old. This platform aims to be an inclusive and exciting place to showcase both our shared struggles and our shared hopes. If you have created something related to healthcare and you’d like to see it here, send it to us.

Thank you, and I can’t wait to read your work,

Maggie Felisberto

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