Editor’s Notes & Cover Art

About the Cover

Our cover design features a detail of a painting by Ellen Priest titled Jazz: Edward Simon’s Venezuelan Suite #13 © 2008, Ellen Priest. Papers, oil, flashe, pencil, MSA Gel. 42″x 42″. The complete image may be viewed on the back cover.

Jazz has been the subject matter for Priest’s layered, collaged paintings since 1990. Our Kenyon Review cover is the second that offers a detail from a painting in her vibrant 2006-2010 series based on Simon’s four-movement Venezuelan Suite.

Priest’s inspiration comes from surprisingly diverse sources, including Cezanne’s late watercolors, Matisse’s colorful, compositional structures, and Abstract Expressionism, especially the paintings of Willem de Kooning and Joan Mitchell. She is also influenced by the rhythmic and harmonic structures in jazz and related African and Latin American music. Priest’s favorite athletic pursuits are “balance sports,” where motion depends on weight and balance thrown off-center, often in response to terrain, like skiing. Her paintings reflect her interest in movement.

In July 2010, Victoria Donohoe wrote about Priest’s work in two Wilmington, Delaware, exhibitions for the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Priest deliberately blurs the boundaries between painting and jazz in her Venezuelan Suite painted collages. These use form as a language of music. . . . Seeing jazz as full of joy and energy, able to transform sadness, Priest uses it successfully here to create materialized movement in actual worlds of colored space.”

More of her work may be viewed online at www.ellenpriest.com.

Editor’s Notes

The Old and New of It

Isn’t it amazing that paper and print defy banishment? For all the technological innovation, for all the prognostication, many people simply prefer to heft a book or journal in their hands, turn down its page corners, scribble in the margins, even commit the sin and pleasure of cracking its spine.

Not all the time, perhaps. Often I’ll browse through the New Yorker or study KR submissions on my iPad, especially when traveling. Or, in between tasks at my desk, I’ll click on the Times’ Web site to see what’s new. But if I can sit back in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee (or something stronger), the print vehicle in my hands seems all the better, all the more comforting.

I’ll also happily confess to immersing myself in audio recordings for much of my “free reading”—the novels or poetry or genre fiction I turn to for simple pleasure while exercising or driving. More on this to follow.

My guess is that for the foreseeable future (or about two years, which is all humility allows anymore), many of us will employ a variety of formats and multiple media for our reading. No longer can any single mode of transmission answer all needs or all opportunities.

Books and journals, again perhaps surprisingly, also remain remarkably cost effective. Durable, neither easily bruised nor requiring costly updates, they are easily shared and stored. They endure. And all that technological innovation mentioned earlier has not only created new media but actually made printing itself cheaper.

Far older even than the printing press, of course, lies the power of the oral tradition. As we well know with Homer, the Upanishads, much of the Old Testament, what has survived in print or scroll had origins in the distant past of singing, of storytelling. So it’s an old-fashioned pleasure—the listening to literature recited aloud, whether epics or novels, poems or dramas—that recent technology has revived through audio books and podcasts. We needn’t be huddled by fireside to savor this potent magic.

Thus I’m delighted to announce the introduction this spring of the KR Monthly Podcast, available on iTunes and at kenyonreview.org. Each edition will present one of our authors—or several—sharing work aloud. Perfect for a mind-numbing commute, a trip cross country to visit friends or loved ones, or simply a tough workout on the elliptical. As the trainers say, go for it.

—D. H. L.

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