Founded in 1968 by James Bertolino and Warren Woessner, ABRAXAS was one of Wisconsin's first independent little magazines. Bertolino co-edited ABRAXAS 1 & 2, edited 3 & 5, and discontinued his association after 5. Woessner edited numbers 4 & 6-10, when David Hilton joined as a contributing editor. ABRAXAS 14/15 was a joint effort by ABRAXAS and Chowder Review (ed. by Ron Slate). Issues 16-22 featured reviews of small press poetry books (excluding ABRAXAS 20, Bright Moments: A Collection of Jazz Poetry, now in its third printing). ABRAXAS PRESS has also published 22 pamphlets, chapbooks and books, including Essays and Dissolutions, by the late Darrell Gray, Clinches, by Ray DiPalma and The Part-Time Arsonist, by F. Keith Wahle.
In 1981 Ingrid Swanberg assumed editorship, returning ABRAXAS to a format primarily featuring poetry (from an all-reviews format). Woessner remains Senior Editor; the late David Hilton discontinued his association as an editor in the 1980s though he continued to publish his poetry in ABRAXAS into the late 90s. Swanberg edited ABRAXAS 23/24, the Special Madison Issue, and ABRAXAS 25/26, the Special Wisconsin Issue. Subsequently, she put together nos. 27/28 (1983), 29/30 (1984), 31/32 (1985), 33 (1985), 34 (1986), 35/36 (1987), 37, the Twentieth Anniversary Issue (1988-89), 38/39 (1990), 40/41 (1991), 42/43 (1997), 44/45 (2006) and 46 (2007). Under Swanberg's editorship the magazine's format has expanded to include poetry in translation, a commitment fully developed with 38/39 & 40/41, in which ABRAXAS published a substantial selection of Cesar Vallejo's Trilce, taken from the only authorized edition published by Vallejo in Lima in 1922, and published in ABRAXAS for the first time since 1922 anywhere. ABRAXAS 38/39 & 40/41 present 52 of the 77 poems of Trilce in the original Spanish and in a brilliant new English translation, with a critical commentary by translator prospero saiz. Since 1983, ABRAXAS has offered poetry in translation from Spanish, French, Portuguese, Swedish, German, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Chinese and Sanskrit, including poems by Pablo Neruda, Yves Bonnefoy, Jose Emilio Pacheco, Homero Aridjis, Antonio Machado, Sohia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Siv Arb, Liu Shahe, Margarita Leon, Antonio Cisneros, Yolanda Blanco, Sandor Csoori, Imre Oravecz, Thomas Jastrun, Marcelin Pleynet, Hans Raimund, Tu Fu, Marie Uguay, Christian Arjonilla, Helen Dorion, Antonin Artaud, Gunther Faschinger, Yan Shih-Bo, Zhu Xiao-Zang, Yogeshvara, and more. . .
ABRAXAS' particular focus is on poetry in the lyric mode. Issue #42/43 is devoted to the lyric, as is the current issue, #46. Please see our catalog for more information on particular issues.
The magazine's primary commitment is to contemporary American poetry. Recent contributors include such established poets as Denise Levertov, William Stafford, A.R. Ammons, Anselm Hollo, Douglas Blazek, Carl Thayler, Mary Crow, Ivan Arguelles, and William Winfield, as well as the younger and lesser-known, including some outstanding poets new to ABRAXAS: prospero saiz, Andrea Moorhead, Judith Roitman, David Lincoln Fisher, John Perlman, George Kalamaras, Jeanne Bryan, T.L. Kryss. It is worth noting that two lesser-known poets (saiz & Moorhead) were chosen (by an outside juror) as the winners of ABRAXAS' last round of awards in 1991. As ever, ABRAXAS seeks to discover new and authentic talent. Recognized across the country as one of the best of the few true literary independents, ABRAXAS continues to afford an increasingly rare opportunity to emerging writers for their work to be chosen on the basis of merit, and to be presented in the company of the best contemporary poetry.