Editor’s Notes & Cover Art

About the Cover

Our cover design by John Pickard features a photograph, taken in autumn of 1939, of poet and critic John Crowe Ransom, founding editor of The Kenyon Review, at his copy desk in the magazine’s first office, located in the basement of Kenyon College’s historic Ascension Hall.

Photographic research by Tom Stamp, college historian and keeper of Kenyoniana.

Editor’s Notes

This seventieth anniversary issue of The Kenyon Review is not exceptional so much as exemplary. Within these pages we offer a model of what KR has aspired to across those decades (one ten-year span in the 1970s a barren stretch, the transom shut tight due to financial woes), and certainly during the nearly fifteen years that I have been editor. Represented here by remarkable stories, E. L. Doctorow and Joyce Carol Oates are friends of long-standing. Carl Phillips began publishing poems in KR, with Marilyn Hacker as his champion, long before he established himself as one of the most distinguished younger poets in the land.

Likewise, we are always committed to seeking out emerging authors who offer vibrancy and freshness right now and who may well come to take their own places among the renowned. David Baker, my valued colleague and poetry editor of many years, here introduces Kascha Semonovitch as one such New Voice.

This is not to say that we shy from the exceptional. Every year or two we have taken on a special theme or occasion. In 2000, for example, we offered the “Nobel Issue,” lauding the centenary of the prizes. There has been a special issue on “Culture and Place” and another on “Literature and the Genome.”

I am thus delighted to say that another exceptional instance of KR is very much on the way. Our Winter 2010 issue will be guest edited by Simon Ortiz and devoted to work by indigenous authors. It promises to be truly remarkable.

Beyond the magazine you hold in your hands, this anniversary also offers an opportunity to note the vitality of our larger enterprise. Recent months have seen the introduction of KROnline—an electronic complement to our print journal—and early reactions have been enthusiastic. It’s not just that the literature on KRO will be a little more timely and experimental, we also hope to reach a readership that is younger, more international, more inclined to use the Internet as a literary medium. And indeed, thousands of new readers have been visiting KenyonReview.org, more all the time, as with the KR Blog.

As I announced in the notes to our last issue, the entire run of The Kenyon Review is now available online as well, via the nonprofit organization JSTOR. This archive, as you can surely imagine, is truly a treasure trove. Pick a story by Flannery O’Connor, a poem by Robert Lowell, an essay by William Gass, any author published by the Review, even any phrase or pattern that may be of interest. All can be searched and read by using the link at our Web site.

Yet another reason to visit that site—and I urge you to do so—is that we have just introduced a fourth-generation format, the most thorough-going revision of KenyonReview.org since it was first introduced nearly a decade ago. The look is clean and elegant (based on the new format for this magazine introduced exactly one year ago), and far more interactive. It gives us the capacity of more creative innovation to come.

The community of writers, young and not so young, who participate in our workshops has also continued to grow. This past summer saw all of our programs filled to capacity. Their emergence from simply an auxiliary status among our efforts to a central thrust of KR’s mission has been an exciting and challenging aspect of recent years.

I am proud and tremendously excited by all of these developments. Together, they strengthen The Kenyon Review as an institution and help pursue its ambitious mission. First and foremost, however, we are about literature—stories, poems, and essays that matter, that move us, that strive for a deep resonance at the heart of the human. This seventieth anniversary edition of The Kenyon Review is exemplary in seeking nothing less than that.

— D. H. L.

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