Editor’s Notes & Cover Art

About the Cover

Our cover design by Nanette Black
features an image from a series of photographs by Gregory Spaid
on the architecture of Nantucket. This photograph was made in 1994
in the small village of Siasconset on the east side of the island.
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 Council.

Editor’s Notes

In a moment I will announce some very good news
for KR in its sixtieth anniversary year;and yet I feel
slightly abashed in doing so, for it concerns our finances. It would
be delightful if such matters could operate discreetly, smoothly,
in the background. These notes would then be dedicated entirely
to issues literary. But divorcing art from finance is all but impossible
in contemporary America. Fund-raising, budgeting, office management
play as much a part of an editor’s duties, sadly, as reading manuscripts,
soliciting new work, or collaborating with an author to make a promising
story or poem even better.

The good news: the National
Endowment for the Arts
has awarded The Kenyon Review
a grant of sixty thousand dollars;the single largest NEA award ever
committed to a literary magazine. We are gratified and honored.
(Thank you, NEA.) With the energetic guidance of KR‘s trustees,
we are launching a campaign to match this grant with three dollars
for every one from the NEA, on our way to an initial endowment of
one million dollars. This will broaden KR‘s fiscal stability
and bring us closer to financial independence. An ambitious goal,
yes. But one critical to the enduring legacy of a magazine as vigorous
in its sixtieth year as ever, and eagerly looking to the future.
Gifts from you, our readers and most loyal supporters over the years,
will be welcome indeed.

The nature of this challenge, raising money for
a literary magazine, is rather peculiar. In part, that’s because
the delight one experiences in reading a magazine such as The
Kenyon Review
is, quite obviously, a solitary one. True, when
we are swept up in the beauty and power of a fine story or poem
we feel in contact with the imagination and intelligence of the
author. And as I have argued in these pages before, we also become
part of a larger conversation among readers, authors, and critics
that plays out across time and space. Yet, in the moment of reading
we are by ourselves, with no one else to admire our discrimination
or our wardrobe.

I make this point because, typically, literary
magazines have a much tougher time raising money than do museums,
orchestras, and dance companies. We don’t;we can’t;regularly draw
people together in the same ways. We don’t occupy (or even wish
for) a beautiful edifice that will add charm to a neighborhood.
International in scope, KR nonetheless quietly speaks to
individual readers, no matter their locale. Thus, making the case
for benefits to a specific community, the focus of most individual
giving, is far, far harder than for other arts organizations.

And too, gone are the supposedly halcyon days
of the 1940s and 1950s when, amongst the so-called “New York
intellectuals” (and many, many others around the world), the
belief abided that literature mattered to the non-literary
community as well. The Kenyon Review, The Partisan
Review
, and a few other such journals influenced conversation
and debate far beyond strictly literary circles. Literary criticism
seemed to hold keys for interpreting not just literature but the
larger, often threatening, political world as well.

To be sure, today’s community of writers and readers
is larger and probably more vital than ever before. At the same
time, however, American culture itself is also fragmented more deeply,
and literary magazines lack the larger reach, for better or worse,
of those earlier years.

No matter, our passion remains. So too our determination.
Fine writing will, as it has for centuries, continue to make a difference; large
or small, now or later—in a changing, sometimes troubled, always
exciting world.

— DHL

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