About the Cover
Our cover design by Nanette Black
features an image from a series of photographs by Gregory Spaid
on rural America. This photograph was made in 1990 in the small
town of Dixon in northern New Mexico. Spaid’s work is in the permanent
collections of such public and private institutions as the Museum
of Modern Art, the Smithsonian, and the Chase Manhattan Bank. Spaid,
a professor of art at Kenyon College, received a Fulbright research
fellowship to Italy and numerous fellowships from the Ohio Arts
As I write these notes, mid-November has descended
on Gambier, the leaves are down, hills and cornfields stunningly
stark, the sky high, clear. And I’m drawing a deep breath of pleasure
(of relief, in truth, too) now that The Kenyon Review Celebration
of Robert Lowell, two exhilarating days last weekend, lies behind
us. What a marvelous group of poets and critics gathered here. Among
them were Helen Vendler and Frank Bidart; Richard Tillinghast and
Robert Giroux; Saskia Hamilton, Wyatt Prunty, and Jorie Graham;
Charles McKinley and Robert Dana. Very quickly they, along with
students and faculty and other guests in the audience, formed a
special small community, with sparks and inspiration flying with
the conversation. Such community of purpose is all too rare and
precious, by its very nature short-lived, as sometimes happens in
the theater. Rarely does its half-life last so long as a weekend.
It was a heady experience. I’m grateful to the president of the
Shiffman Foundation, Richard Levey, for the vision as well as the
wherewithal to make the event possible, and I’m pleased to announce
that we will publish the proceedings—the formal talks, readings,
panel discussions—in the Winter 2000 issue (December ’99) of
The Kenyon Review as well as on our Web site, kenyonreview.org.
First, however, comes the stunning Spring issue
you now hold in your hands, an issue that not only continues our
year-long celebration of The Kenyon Review‘s sixtieth anniversary,
but one worthy of your undivided attention for other notable reasons.
If you’re the first reader of this particular copy of KR,
you’ll notice a survey
tucked neatly inside. (If you’re not the first and the readers’
survey remains glaringly intact, my plea concerns you as well.)
Let me urge you, then, to spend a very few minutes answering our
questions. As we move forward to ensure the future of this magazine,
it’s tremendously important that we know as much as possible about
the people who read the Review. Five years have passed
since we last sent out such a questionnaire. The information will
not be sold, nor your trust and privacy abused in any way; it is
entirely for our internal purposes. Please, right now while you’re
considering it, fill out the survey and return it to us. Thank you.
Spring of our anniversary year—a propitious
moment, I think, to also introduce a dramatic new design to these
pages. It marks the occasion by looking toward the future, toward
new writing, new voices, ever new aspirations for the magazine.
Large blocks of tight black prose have given way to a more open
typeface and more leading (open space) between the lines. A trendier
look, new for the sake of newness, wasn’t the goal. Rather, we’ve
aimed to make the Review easier to read, more inviting.
After two years of developing the design, I’m very excited now that
it is, literally, at hand. I’m also eager to hear your response
through the survey.
Finally, I’m delighted to welcome a new fiction
editor, Nancy Zafris. A distinguished author and teacher, winner
of the Flannery O’Connor Award in Short Fiction, Nancy will help
us continue to strengthen KR, identifying new voices along
with the most distinguished authors of this generation.