Shō Poetry Journal was started in 2002 by Sita (Chia) Martin when she was battling cancer. She wanted to create a platform to promote the work of poets she knew and admired. Sponsored by Hohm Press, she solicited work from nine poets, collected a total of sixty-eight poems, and arranged them in her preferred order. Before going to press she passed on from this world.
Johnny Cordova, one of the contributing poets, was asked to step in to oversee typesetting and cover design. After contributor copies of Shō’s premiere issue were mailed out, Johnny stayed on as managing editor and opened Shō to national submissions, soliciting work in the process from a handful of poets he’d been reading.
Shō Number Two appeared in Spring 2003 and featured poetry by William Packard, Todd Moore, Gerald Locklin, Joan Jobe Smith, Fred Voss, Ann Menebroker, Amy Uyematsu, Jim Simmerman, Virgil Suárez, A.D. Winans, Lyn Lifshin, Robert L. Penick, and others. We think it could hold its own in any collector’s library.
Shortly after publishing Shō Number Two, Johnny moved unexpectedly from Arizona to California. After a promising start, Shō was no more.
But in the summer of 2021, after ten years living in Southeast Asia, Johnny returned to Arizona and accepted a role as poetry editor for Hohm Press. Shortly thereafter, he received the green light and the funding to resurrect Shō. So here we are.
This present incarnation of Shō is edited by Johnny Cordova and Dominique Ahkong, a husband-and-wife team. Our tastes are divergent but there is a lot of overlap. We share a similar aesthetic and usually agree on what constitutes compelling poetry.
Shō Poetry Journal’s mission is to give voice to poets who have been historically underrepresented or overlooked and to champion poets at all stages of their careers, with an emphasis on emerging poets. We encourage submissions from Indigenous poets and poets of color, queer poets, old-school street poets, contemporary Zen poets, immigrants, third-culture kids, and poets with intersectional identities. We are eclectic and inclusive. We publish the best poetry we receive. We want you to enjoy the read.
The name Shō was given to Sita Martin by her spiritual teacher, Lee Lozowick. He never told her what it meant.
From what we’ve gathered, we know that it is a Japanese prefix that takes on different meanings depending on the context. The meaning we’ve found most resonant is “to bridge” or “cross over.”
Given that it was Sita Martin’s swan song, we like thinking of the birth of Shō as a bridge that helped her cross over from this world to the next.
We are a Nonprofit
Shō is an imprint of Hohm Press, a nonprofit publisher of spiritual literature, health books, and poetry. We seek to support the efforts of emerging and established poets alike and to introduce them to a wider audience.
Please consider subscribing or donating. And if you’re a working poet, send us your work.