Editor’s Notes & Cover Art

About the Cover

Our cover design by Nanette Black
draws from a series of personal works by Mary Black Kinsman. A graduate
of Antonelli Institute of Art and Photography, Kinsman resides and
works in upstate New York.

Editor’s Notes

Recent editions of these Editor’s Notes have ranged
from ranting about New Yorker hubris to observing the peculiar
challenges of fund-raising on behalf of a literary magazine. (Please
note, by the way, our annual posting in these pages of KR‘s
complete donor list—we are truly grateful to our many generous
supporters.) For Spring 2000, however, I thought I might focus on
the fine literature contained within these covers—it’s what
we’re about, after all—providing some personal gloss on a
poem, some anticipation of a story’s dramatic power. The process
of looking back in this way has been for me something of a rediscovery,
a challenge, a delightful surprise.

At KR we work three or even four issues
ahead of current publication. In other words, the other editors
and I are reading submissions and making selections a year or more
in advance of publication. This allows time for final revisions
if necessary, and then for a painstaking copyediting process that
involves extensive back-and-forth conversation with our authors.
From commas and variant spellings, to the certainty that a given
sentence makes the sense a writer intends, all of this comes open
to question. And, of course, the typesetting, laborious proofing,
and page layout performed in our offices, before the magazine is
sent to the printer, involve weeks and months of effort. By then
I’m already on to the next issue or the one beyond that. I confess
it’s sometimes difficult, when asked, to remember just when a piece
I’ve accepted is scheduled to appear.

So as each new issue lands on my desk and I open
its pages, I feel that I’m encountering old friends, discovering
afresh their beauty and power and sheer intelligence.

But it’s rather a different task to glance at
the contents for Spring 2000, not after the fact but in order to
write these notes. I do experience delight and rediscovery, of course.
But I’m in no little way frustrated as well. How can I mention one
or five or fifteen of the selections here and not name them all?
Larissa Szporluk’s set of poems for our New Voices feature is dazzling,
indeed, but so is Marianne Boruch’s poem about tuning a piano to
one’s heart, with forgiveness or not. Rick Bass brings the world
of a volunteer firefighter alight; Amudha Rajendran and Jayanta
Mahapatra illumine a distant country that’s very much a part of
our world. These are wonderful choices to introduce this issue and
they are also entirely arbitrary. They are neither more nor less
than typical offerings.

There is nothing special, then, about this issue
of The Kenyon Review. But I’ve come to believe that it’s
the magazine to which we’ve aspired: new voices joined with names
of wide renown; an astonishing breadth of poetry (thanks largely
to Dave Baker’s efforts); fiction of power and rigor (a grateful
nod to Nancy Zafris here); works in translation; challenging essays
and reviews; an interview of substance, not mere accolade. Anywhere
you dip a toe, the language will draw you in, sweep you away, or
so I’ll wager.

Some time ago we made a decision to produce fewer
special or thematically defined issues. It seems to me that the
particular strengths of The Kenyon Review are most apparent
in our general numbers, such as Spring 2000, where we are not limited
by theme or fashion, but seek simply to offer the best in new writing.
Period.

While reading this issue you may come to notice,
by the way, that the order of contents is not haphazard. Groups
subtly gather. Resonances rumble. Tom Bigelow, KR‘s managing
editor, has spent considerable time and effort interlacing poems
and stories. Such likeness is entirely accidental and wonderfully
fortuitous.

—David H. Lynn

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