How Poetry Magazine is doing nearly a decade after ‘winning the lottery’

Chicago Tribune
In 2002, Poetry Magazine received $100 million from Ruth Lilly, whose poems were regularly rejected by the publication. A year later, some were wondering if the Chicago-based magazine would survive the windfall. (“It’s like leaving a fortune to your goldfish,” said one poet.) In 2002, Poetry had a modest circulation of 10,000 and annual budget of $700,000. Today its circulation is 26,000, and its budget is more than $6 million. Chicago Tribune’s Christopher Borrelli writes:

The magazine gets $1.5 million a year, and $2.2 million goes to educational programs. Poetry’s website alone receives a hefty $1.2 million, a point of contention in literary circles. Then there’s $1.3 million for administrative costs, including salaries for the 20-person staff. …Late last week Poetry magazine was preparing to leave for its new home, which will have 22,000 square feet, a 125-seat theater, a library for its 35,000 books of poetry — and a soundproof booth for recording podcasts.

Borrelli says that under editor-in-chief Christian Wiman, “Poetry is arguably smarter than it has been in years.”

“I read it immediately when I get it,” said Alice Quinn, who runs the Poetry Society of America and was poetry editor at the New Yorker. “That’s a sign of vitality.” The National Magazine Award judges agreed: Last spring Poetry won best literary magazine – beating the Paris Review – and an award for best podcast.

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