Nearly four years ago, I talked my dear friend Brett Elizabeth Jenkins into stepping down from our respective literary journals where we were editing poetry to start one of our own. Brett and I were in a writing group together, and I was grateful for how smart and savvy she was (is!) with reading poems and her generosity in the literary world. I wanted to team up with someone so smart and good, and we did: we created Tinderbox Poetry Journal and launched it on the summer solstice, a nod to the sharp change of seasons here in our home state of Minnesota.
I wanted to start this journal because I had begun to feel that itchy hunger and greed that happens when I fall in love with something beautiful: if I couldn’t write it, then I wanted to create a home for it. This is how the journal began, and also how the sister-press Tinderbox Editions began as well: I wanted to make a home for beautiful art.
Tinderbox grew in so many unexpected ways. We ended up bringing on an assistant editor, and a reviews editor, in response to the growing need for poetry reviews and the push of good poems in the world. We started an annual contest, which has knocked us to its knees in its push of talent to our inboxes. It has been such a pleasure and honor to read all of this work.
I have always felt strongly that it is a part of our duty as art-makers to help promote our art as a form in the larger community. To me, this has taken many forms: internships at art organizations, mentoring for AWP and the Minnesota Prison Writer’s Workshop, volunteering for various events, running this journal and the press. But there comes a time when one has reached a maximum capacity and realizes, somehow, she cannot do it all. I’m a mama to two young children, and I’ve started a new job this past fall in a Montessori school, which includes some intense summer training over the next few years. I am lucky enough to work with some of the most inquisitive and creative spirits in my community, and this work is taking me on so many glorious journeys. I am happy and full.
I’m handing the reins over to the woman who was originally a reader on our staff—capable, wonderful hands, hands that have really been running the show the past year or so, with me pinch hitting here and there. But this is really Jennifer Givhan’s baby now—I may have had a good part in getting it started and into the world, and now it’s time to step back, and let it all flourish. I’ve loved my time here, and you can find me working hard at the helm of Tinderbox Editions, continuing the work of putting deserving, courageous, admirable work into the world. We’ll be a team still, and I’m grateful for that.
Keep writing and keep sending.
Molly Sutton Kiefer
Co-founder, Tinderbox Poetry Journal