About the Cover
Our cover design features a photograph by Mariana Cook, titled “Wall and Forsythia, Chilmark, Massachusetts.”
Cook’s photographic study of stone walls began here when her neighbor’s fifty-six cows barged through these rocks to graze the day before Thanksgiving, 2002. After the herd returned home, she examined the broken wall. The ancient beauty of these stones inspired her to photograph them.
Over the next eight years, she continued to study stone walls, traveling to Britain, Ireland, the Mediterranean, Peru, New England, and Kentucky to capture their sculptural presence in landscape and nature. Her photographs are reproduced in her newest book, Stone Walls: Personal Boundaries (Damiani Editore) with a letter from Wendell Berry.
Mariana Cook is the last protégée of Ansel Adams. Her masterful photographs of people both in and out of the public eye have been widely published and exhibited.
Her works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Portrait Gallery, the Getty Museum, the Bibliotheque National, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and more. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
© 2011 Mariana Cook
This issue of our journal appears shortly before the start of National Poetry Month in April. On the 18th of that month we’ll also mark Poem in Your Pocket Day in Gambier with readings and decorations and great excitement. Such artificial designations do, I confess, strike me as rather odd. I’ve just discovered a dedicated Web site — nationalwhatever.com — to save me the regret of missing National Raspberry Cream Pie Day on July 1, which also happens to be National Flash a Trucker Day. I’ll quit with that.
Yet whatever its status on the calendar, National Poetry Month provides a fine opportunity for celebration. Despite the increasing fragmentations of our culture and seemingly infinite distractions, we are living in something of a golden age. Writers of every stripe are crafting more poetry and literary prose than ever before — and much of it is very good indeed.
One senses this fecundity intuitively. After all, serious writing programs exist from elementary school to doctorate; informal writing groups proliferate locally; workshops of every shape, size, and instructional mode are offered in the summer — and on many weekends too. The annual convention of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs grows larger every year, and though some may mourn the loss of a kind of free-form spontaneity and the creeping pall of professional panels, there’s no doubting that a marvelous sense of shared purpose and passion, of community, is ever more vibrant.
Less intuitively, I witness the fruits of all these labors in submissions to this journal and to KROnline. Not only has the number been growing every year, in general so has the quality. It’s why we read unsolicited pieces so carefully: there are more diamonds and less rough all the time.
This past year I was asked to serve as a juror of a new collaborative effort by the President’s Commission on the Arts & Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance of Young Artists & Writers. The National Student Poets program has reached out through local and regional partners across the nation to encourage high school poets. It’s far more ambitious than just a contest, but it is a contest too. I had the privilege and pleasure of reading the work of some terrifically talented finalists, and then meeting with the five national winners themselves, each representing a different region of the country. These sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds are dazzling, talented, vibrant, gob-smackingly inspiring.
All of this is by way of saying again that there’s plenty to celebrate for those of us who care about the vitality of the literary community, the writers and readers who share and add to the quality of our lives.
—D. H. L.