Throughout the 1970’s, the magazine called Northwest was a renowned and respected Sunday magazine in The Oregonian. And I had the honor of having my work published there on three occasions. Northwest’s short yet prestigious history is recalled in this online article by Charles Deemer –
Deemer writes: “By 1969 Northwest had gained national attention. In an article called ‘Not For Oatmeal Minds’ in the May, 1969, issue of Quill, the Magazine for Journalists, James J. Doyle wrote:
‘Much of Northwest’s high-voltage has come, and has been retained, by its dynamic editor Joe Bianco. Trained in the hard school of East Coast dailies, Bianco works from the premise that this country is undergoing a great social upheaval – a potentially rapturous calamity which calls for investigation and social analysis beyond the scope of newspage content. What has resulted is an open forum of ideas for freelance writers and professional reporters.’”
Earlier, Deemer states: “At the end of 1966, Bianco wrote a short editorial introducing a new format and title for the magazine. Finally he was identified as the editor. ‘Features’ became the first section of the magazine, receiving primary billing, with the home and garden stories following behind. This was the format that would define Northwest magazine into the 70s. In April, 1976, an Arts section was added. Six months later, a poetry page.”
I was one of the beneficiaries of Northwest’s poetry page. My first poem that Northwest published, entitled “Lament For The Seventies,” tapped into Bianco’s “premise that this country is undergoing a great social upheaval.” Here is my poem –
LAMENT FOR THE SEVENTIES
Since I arrived I’ve seen a decade twice.
I came amid conformity.
And as I grew older barely knew
Rebellion was changing all ideals.
It must have been a social fluke, though; now
We’ve come full course. The show begins again.
Now Rubin seeks a self-awareness, Marx
No longer outsells God, and I think Mick
Is loud and sour. We must have missed our chance.
I learned to do my own thing, satisfied
No more by pointless games. Was life a waste,
A neat device to occupy the time?
This morning smelled like paper mills; it rained
The night before. Scotchbroom’s yellow perfume
Outside my room entices me, and bees
Have found it too. Their toil provoked
By that sweet smell alone: devotion dependent
On fading blooms, and soon I’ll see they’ve gone.
Deemer continues: “After my first issue-by-issue inspection of the archives, 1965-1982, I found myself with a list of several hundred stories I wanted to reprint. …Soon enough, however, I identified the issues I should focus on – because these same issues face us today. The stories here about the Environment, Civil Liberties and the Changing Family, which were published by Northwest between 1969 and 1981, could have been written today.”
In separate editions Northwest published two poems that I wrote, and for which I was paid! Here is the second poem, written while I was living in Greece in 1978 –
I came to Greece three weeks ago, and now
It’s clear I can’t converse with people here.
Somehow their language evades me. Voices babble,
Yet nothing said I comprehend. Although
To them the noises are quite meaningful,
I now unconsciously ignore the sounds.
The ground of Salonika shook at night
And we were having pizza at the time.
We ran into the street when things began
To break; and though I didn’t understand
A word, I knew these people were afraid.
Their faces spoke so well non-verbally.
Aegean surf incessantly assaults
The shore. And usually the water’s calm.
But, at times, this sea turns gray, and waves
Grow tall, and breakers crash upon the beach.
Then the surf is telling me that out
At sea, and far away, a storm blows fierce.
Finally, Joe Bianco bought and published my first freelance article for Northwest. It was a how-to article explaining, step-by-step, how to sweep your own chimney. Based upon my interview with a professional chimneysweep, the article also included my photographs. Later, this same article was adapted and published at ehow.com.
Northwest magazine is now defunct, along with much of traditional, print journalism. Even The Oregonian is no longer a daily newspaper. Therefore, it was an honor to be a small part of that era.