When Victoria Chang started as the Poetry Editor for The New York Times Magazine this year, the first thing she did doesn’t sound very poetic—she made a spreadsheet. First she wrote the name of everyone who held the position before her. Under each editor she listed every poet they published during their roughly year-long tenures. Only then did she start thinking about who she herself would feature—using the list she had made to ensure that she centers new voices.
Chang is Core Faculty and Acting Program Chair of Antioch’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, but at first she wasn’t sure about taking on this very public position at the nation’s paper of record, with its circulation of over six million. Although she likes to put her work in the world, the idea of presenting herself in this curatorial role came with a lot of anxiety. But she saw an opportunity to bring more poets into the public eye. As she explains, “I thought, maybe I could put my fingerprint on it and manage to come out of it unscathed as a human being.” With only fifty poems to choose over the year, she’s looking at the work as compiling a mini-anthology, one that challenges readers’ expectations. “We have a culture of poetry that is centered on star culture,” she says. “And I don’t necessarily buy into that.” She’s expanding the idea of who gets to be a poet featured in The New York Times Magazine.