The Launch Party Speeches

The following are the speeches given by River Heron Review founders and co-editors, Judith Lagana and Robbin Farr at the River Heron Review Launch Party held at the Doylestown Bookshop on Sunday, August 5:

from Judith Lagana:

"Welcome to River Heron Review’s official launch party. I would like to first begin by saying thank you to Glenda, for her generous offering of this space today, to Kristy, fo her behind the scenes help, and to Nathan, for his ongoing support of us and of the local Bucks County poetry community. We certainly appreciate the support from both the Doylestown and Lahaska Bookshops. Also, a warm and special thank you to Tony, Richard, and Anthony for their patience, consults, and good humor throughout this journey.

As many of you know, I am Judith Lagana and this is Robbin Farr and we are the founders and co-editors of River Heron Review. Both Robbin and I are so thrilled that all of you are here to help us celebrate the publication of our first online issue. Thus far, we have had nearly 3,000 visitors to Issue 1.1 since its online debut last Wednesday. That is pretty awesome for a first time online poetry journal created by two local gals with a passion for poetry.

This all started not far from here, at the Saxby’s in Lahaska, where Robbin and I would meet regularly on Saturday or Sunday mornings to workshop our poetry. We had taken our “chance meeting” at poet Peter Murphy’s Winter Getaway Writing Conference a step further and were now established, “writing partners."

As the story goes, one morning I believe I said, “We should start our own literary magazine, I’ve always wanted to do that.” And Robbin’s immediate response was, “Let’s do it.”

And we did. That was last December.

By month’s end we had a name, a format, and River Heron Review Gmail addresses. By January, we had established as a formal LLC. and created a website...and over the months since then, we have contributed something special to the poetry community in terms of promoting local readings and events, offering for sale the chapbooks of local poets as well as those of our contributors in our online bookshop, offering creative writing workshops, and as of last Wednesday morning, publishing the work of 33 poets who are as diverse in their perspectives, styles, and voices as they are in the locations from which they hail. All this is eight months.

To all of you here today, we thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement and couldn’t be happier that you are here to officially celebrate River Heron Review's launch with us!


from Robbin Farr:

"...I want to add that the process for choosing the poems was excruciatingly difficult as well as extremely exciting. Prior to retirement I was a high school English teacher. My process for grading papers was to grade three, clean the refrigerator, grade two more, do laundry, and so forth. However, and I speak for Judi as well, we read hundreds of poems, at least multiple times each, often more, and it never, not for a moment grew tiresome.

We loved it. That was the exciting part. The difficult part, as you might guess, was choosing poems, limiting the number. We mostly agreed, but sometimes differed and then we re-read, re-scored, and debated. Simply, there were so many excellent poems, such a variety…and as we found out later because we read blind, a diverse group of poets from around the world, which surprised us. We have published poets from Australia, Newfoundland, England, Africa, Europe and all across the United States.

All of the contributing poets were invited today, I’m sure much to the surprise of many of them. We received such regrets as, "I’m sorry, but I will be in the Netherlands," and  "It’s a bit far from Australia....from Oregon", and from one poet, “The airfare is too expensive.” That he would even consider attending our launch party, is wonderful indeed. Today we are honored to present a handful of those poets who will be reading their published poems."


River Heron Review ~ Issue 1.1. Launch Party
August 5, 2018
  Judith Lagana and Robbin Farr, Founders and Co-Editors, River Heron Review
Readings by Contributors
(with acknowledgements to those who could not be with us today!)

  • Shawn Jones ~ "Admission of Guilt"

  • Wendy Steginsky ~ "It's the Way of Passing Things"

  • Mary Jo Jerome ~ "Tokyo Underground Prayer

  • Steve Nolan ~ "A Woman's Touch"

  • Chris Bullard ~ "Injustice"

  • Jane Edna Mohler ~ "The Last Time the Skiff Sank"

  • Paul Ilechko ~ "The River Dreams of Winter"

  • John Speredakos ~ "Mars Ever Nearer"

  • Luray Gross ~ "Listening to Edith Piaf at Nineteen" (with special Guest, Katherine Falk)

  • Julie Cooper-Fratrik ~ "Homelessness" also "Somebody"

All in all, a wonderful afternoon!