Editor’s Notes & Cover Art

About the Cover

Our cover design by Nanette Black features Omen, 1934 by photographer John Gutmann (1905–1998).

Born in Germany, Gutmann was originally trained as a painter. Being of Jewish descent, Gutmann emigrated to the United States after the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Party in the 1930s.

Gutmann’s Depression-era photographs captured lively and celebratory scenes, often in stark contrast to the despair displayed in other photography of the day.

Photo and biographical information courtesy of Collection Center for Creative Photography ©1998 Arizona Board of Regents.

 

Editor’s Notes

You are holding in your hands—or perhaps viewing on a video screen—the first comprehensive redesign of The Kenyon Review in several decades. Oh, there have been plenty of changes along the way before now, some hasty, some well-considered. For example, it was only out of a perilous financial situation in 1994 that we went from a four-color cover to the black-and-white photos, which have become, unwittingly I confess, such a stunning signature for KR ever since. (They are actually a duotone production, black-and-white overlaid with a nearly neutral color that provides the depth, the sizzle, and zip. The changes represented considerable savings when we most needed them.)

At other times we’ve experimented with different type faces, hoping to make long pages of gray prose more inviting to readers. In other words, we’ve tinkered with this and with that.

About two years ago we realized, for one example, that the way our program brochures appeared on a page had little to do stylistically with the journal or our letterhead or other printed materials. Likewise, as our Web site, kenyonreview.org, developed well beyond our original imaginings, so too did its style diverge from other visual elements of The Kenyon Review.

The initial impulse to revise our “look,” then, arose first from a desire for greater consistency and coherence among our increasingly diverse materials. In addition, these last two years have also seen The Kenyon Review staff and trustees undertake some very serious soul-searching—recalibrating our definition for success (we’d succeeded, after all, in saving the journal in the 1990s through cost cutting and a new financial model), and an evolving articulation of goals and ambitions. It’s only appropriate that design be part of that process.

So where are we now? You’ll notice at first glance what we chose not to do—sacrifice those black-and-white photographs for something splashier. We didn’t want noise for the sake of noise, nor to abandon a signature that has been so distinctive. I think—I hope—you’ll find our new look a subtle but meaningful advance. In addition to color on the cover and a new typeface within, a design developed in collaboration with Landesberg Design of Pittsburgh, over time we’ll be offering more graphic content as well. More or less simultaneously, kenyonreview.org, the Web site, is introducing a bold, coordinated new look—a fourth generation of enhancements in that site in only about ten years. Let me know, please, what you think—I’m eager to get your response.

I’m also keenly aware that among readers and writers who haven’t actually looked through KR in recent years we may have come to seem something like an old gray lady, elegant to be sure, with plenty of distinguished names, but hardly vibrant enough to waggle hip room in a crowded market. I hope that the new design, along with some of our other initiatives, will tempt reluctant browsers to snatch a gander.

Well, excuse me, and mind the hip.

• •

It’s my sad and reluctant duty now to mention that Meg Galipault, managing editor of The Kenyon Review, is leaving after five years of creativity and leadership. I daresay we’d never have achieved the full redesign described above without her constant conversation, good sense, and keen aesthetic guiding the long process. Moments such as these necessarily provoke stock-taking, and it’s striking just how far KR as an organization has come during Meg’s tenure. But even that doesn’t really touch on the relationships she’s made across the world of literary writing and publishing. We’ve already heard plenty of cries of dismay from far and wide. Which goes to show this is not such a solitary business after all. Meg remains very much a part of the KR community, and we wish her well in all her aspirations.

— David H. Lynn

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