Naming the Blog

Russell Valentino

I'm hoping it's not a sign of anything but my pedestrian (as opposed to vehicular? cyclist?) tech skills that my first post to this blog got lost. We think Word Press swallowed it. Luckily, it wasn't very memorable. To be more memorable, the editors decided we needed a name for this here blog thingy and promptly set out in search of a proper one to do us justice, or at least not make us look lame.

My first suggestions were all in the "artifacts of print" category, like the NY Times Paper Cuts (incidentally, a somewhat masochistic image to keep coming back to!) or the LA Times Jacket Copy (less painful definitely), and those led me to things like "back flap," "front flap," "pencil lead," "nubs," "fair copy," and "front matter." Though I pushed "nubs" for a bit, it was "front matter" that we lingered on for longer, and I suppose it's still in the running. But maybe because it sounds a lot like "Front Line," it makes me think more of journalism than literature. Perhaps it's a little too weighty.

I then rushed headlong in the opposite direction. If Front Matter suggested institutional seriousness and even a kind of orderliness (a table of contents, for instance), a personal name, like The Poetry Foundation's Harriet suggested someone you could get to know, share stories with, becomes friends with, and not just on Facebook. How about a wild name, something revolutionary that suggested the overthrow of the old dead-tree way of the lit mag and pointed toward the chaotic, creative free-for-all of the internet, an unleashing of energies unlike anything people had seen before? Harriet was too nice, quaint even. We would not be that. We would be Attila! With a logo, of course, and maybe some horns and the severed heads of a couple of wild dogs. Maybe I was laughing too much when I suggested this. Staff thought I was nuts.

According to Nick Twemlow, TIR's Poetry Editor and a former blogger for Harriet (see, sounds nice), Harriet was named after Harriet (Monroe), the first editor of Poetry magazine. Now there was an idea. Who was the first editor of The Iowa Review? Grab that Vol. 1, No. 1 off the shelf and take a look: Merle E. Brown. Merle. Merle. Merle. No, it didn't quite have the ring of a blog name. Lacking a syllable perhaps. Merle's something maybe. Merle's Front Matter? Merle's Flaps? Merle's Nubs!? I really thought I had it with the last one, but probably I was laughing again, and despite the fact that it was the laughter of triumph, you know, like Attila's, again the staff wasn't buying it.

We've tossed around a few others, but nothing so far has rung true and been compelling enough to replace The Iowa Review Blog, which would be the only reason to have a name in the end. I don't want to spend too much time on this, but: Suggestions?