About the Cover
Our cover design by Nanette Black features Alberto
Giacometti, Paris, early 1960s, a photograph published in Imprints
by Christer Strömholm: The Hasselblad Award 1997 (Hasselblad
Center, Gothenburg, Sweden, 1998). Christer Strömholm died
on January 11, 2002, at age 83. Two recent exhibitions of his work
in Paris at Gallerie Vu and Photo-Paris received high praise, as
well as rave reviews in Le Monde. Strömholm’s work over
the last half century largely shaped photography as an independent
art form throughout Europe.
We were saddened to learn, in January, of the
passing of Christer Strömholm, the extraordinary Swedish photographer.
Less well known in the United States than elsewhere in the world,
Strömholm’s work presents an astonishing, powerful, sometimes
playful vision of the twentieth century. He honored The Kenyon
Review by allowing us to use six of his photos on our covers
across two volume years. The current example is the last of the
first series; the next three will be strikingly different. We wish
to honor Christer Strömholm in turn.
One year ago The Kenyon Review produced a special issue—actually,
the Spring 2001 number—to celebrate the centenary of the Nobel
prizes. It was quite a challenge, not least because of the short
horizon from start to finish, once the Nobel Museum in Stockholm
suggested our collaboration only twelve months earlier.
I am happy now to announce that the next issue of KR dedicated
to a single theme will be Summer/Fall 2003, which will feature new
fiction, poetry, and essays exploring a rich topic: the relationship
between culture and place. Unsolicited manuscripts on this specific
topic will be welcome until June 1, 2002.
We are not particularly interested in travel writing, such as one
encounters so frequently these days. Nor do we anticipate welcoming
appreciations of nature per se. Ditto to encounters with the exotic.
Rather, as John Kinsella, Nancy Zafris, David Baker, Tom Bigelow,
and I discussed and developed the idea for this issue, our hope
became that writers from around the world would engage the manifold
ways in which different cultures imagine and enact their relationship
with the physical world. One people may believe it is their responsibility
to develop the land, whether through agriculture or mining. Another
may imagine its role as caretakers of fields and streams, plants
What makes one particular place holy or manifesting a special relationship
with the divine? Jerusalem surely is not alone in that regard. When
different peoples inhabit a common area, what role does the physical
terrain play in negotiating identity and power? How does language
shape the engagement with place? And memory, myth, storytelling?
So-called nomadic peoples such as the Sami in Scandinavia or the
Roma throughout Europe may understand in a more fluid manner their
rela-tionship with landscapes they traverse than do more sedentary
cultures. What about those who have been forcibly removed from one
place to another?
These are merely the kinds of questions that may prompt interesting
work. Some of them may be addressed, others not, and still others
impossible to anticipate will surprise and delight as they cross
our desks and demand a place in the issue on place.
One piece already promised grows out of the Nobel issue, as a matter
of fact. Wendy Singer, who developed and edited work by Einstein,
Tagore, and Curie last year, also contacted the Dalai Lama, a winner
of the Nobel Peace Prize. On previous occasions he had discussed
the nature of human creativity, and Professor Singer invited him
to elaborate on that topic, which helped shape the special issue.
But given distance, language, bureaucracy and, not least, His Holiness’s
demanding schedule, the conversation was slow to fulfill.
In September 2001, however, Wendy Singer visited Dharamsala. Although
her original questions on creativity interested the Dalai Lama’s
staff, she found herself discussing with him the challenges facing
a government in exile with him as its titular head; his role as
spiritual leader for many Buddhists; efforts to maintain the remembered
traditions of Tibet amidst the reality of living in the very different
culture and climate of India; and his relationship to a Tibet he
may never again visit. Wonderful stuff. Wait and see.
As a matter of editorial policy, KR develops special issues
only every two or three years. Other magazines do so more often—for
some, every issue is “special”—some never at all.
The Kenyon Review strives for a creative balance. Our open
issues often surprise with unanticipated constellations of themes
and topics, resonances between submissions; but the forum generates
individual pieces that defy larger categories. “Culture and
Place,” on the other hand, provides another opportunity for
playful (and there is nothing so serious in literature as playfulness)
engagement with a rich topic.
This June will provide not only the deadline for submissions to
the special issue; another session of the Kenyon Review Writing
Programs will commence at the end of the month. Young Writers at
Kenyon, the exceptional program for high-school students sixteen
to eighteen years old, will be in its thirteenth year. Hard to imagine.
Yet once again a diverse group of some fifty-five talented students
from across the country will spend two weeks in Gambier. Responding
to a variety of “prompts” and to thoughtful responses
from each other, they will write and rewrite and then write some
more. In the process, they will discover the links between thinking––how we understand and imagine the world––and how we
realize our thoughts through language, through writing, whether
as prose or poetry, fiction or memoir.
The staff is always entertained and energized as well, not merely
by the talent of these young people, but by watching them discover
others their age who share their interests. For it is often the
case, of course, that sensitive teenagers think of themselves as
isolated and unappreciated. Not here.
In the evenings, the young writers join members of the Kenyon Review
Writers Workshop, adult writers also from across the nation, for
public readings by guest authors and by our extraordinary workshop
leaders themselves. One would be tempted to call these readings
the delightful cap to long days of hard work. It’s my experience,
however, that after a few moments of social conversation most of
our participants head back to their rooms or computer stations for
further writing in preparation for the next day’s sessions.
Indeed, our mission––what makes the KR writers
workshops special––is to push members to their literary
limits until they’re ready to drop, to challenge them, to
watch them grow. Asking adults to give up so much vacation time,
for example, not to mention the cost of tuition, room, and board,
is no easy task, unless they come to believe the experience is both
rich and challenging. That may be why, year in and year out, so
many alumni/ae of the program return and why applications are steadily
increas-ing. The experience also creates a sense of community, one
that endures beyond the time here in Ohio, that is rare and precious.
That justifies, for me, the efforts of the entire enterprise.
For further information about both summer writing programs and other
KR literary offerings, visit our Web site––www.kenyonreview.org––which
has been redesigned and expanded.
—David H. Lynn