About the Cover
Our cover design features a detail of a painting by Ellen Priest titled “Jazz: Edward Simon’s Venezuelan Suite #10” © 2006, Ellen Priest. Papers, oil, flashe, pencil, MSA gel. 42”x 42”.
“A painter of celebrations” was reviewer Victoria Donohoe’s description of Priest and her work in the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2007. The Kenyon Review has chosen close-ups of Priest’s vibrant images to celebrate our 75th anniversary this year. The full painting is reproduced on the back cover.
Priest has used jazz as the subject matter for her layered, collaged paintings for over twenty years. In 2010 she completed a four-year body of work titled “Jazz: Edward Simon’s Venezuelan Suite #1-23,” collaborating with jazz pianist/composer Simon as he wrote his four-movement suite and developed it through improvisation in live performances.
In 2011, Priest completed a one-year painting/jazz project with Berklee College of Music’s Global Jazz Institute in Boston, exhibiting the work there in 2012. Concurrently, her work was shown at Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music in New Haven.
Priest has received two Pollock-Krasner Foundation Awards. Her first solo museum exhibition was presented by the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College in 2007, including the first ten paintings in the Venezuelan Suite. More of her work may be viewed online at www.ellenpriest.com.
You’ve already guessed that something’s up. What with Ellen Priest’s brush strokes swooshing colors across the cover and then, a page in, the table of contents adazzle with talented authors, old friends and new, this issue quickly announces itself as special. Well, what better way to launch celebrations of The Kenyon Review’s 75th anniversary (and my own twenty years reins in hand)?
There is much to celebrate beyond mere longevity. Those 75 years have seen many ups and downs for this journal, most of the downs involving finances, including a decade-long hiatus from publishing in the 1970s and, in 1994, a near-brush with silence once more. Thanks to some creative leadership by trustees of Kenyon College and later by the newly formed trustees of The Kenyon Review, our finances today are more stable—are truly secure—in a way that John Crowe Ransom might only have dreamed.
As tribute to Mr. Ransom, as well as a testament to how the literary world has evolved across the decades, during the coming year we will also present a contemporary reimagining of one of his boldest editorial initiatives: the Kenyon Review Credos. In the early 1950s some of the most celebrated public intellectuals of the day, among them Northrop Frye, William Empson, and Leslie Fiedler, contributed to The Kenyon (as it was known) their personal credos, not confessing spiritual faith so much as the core of their professional philosophies and aspirations. These essays, still fascinating, will be reprised in KROnline in coming months.
These days, however, public intellectuals cavort more often as “public intellectuals,” and they play a less-elevated role in a culture that continues to fragment into ever smaller niches. Taking a different tack, we have asked sixteen active writers in the creative arts rather than criticism—poets, essayists, and fiction writers, especially those who have published work in our pages early in their careers—to offer their own latter-day credos. Four will appear in the print journal and twelve in KROnline. In this issue we feature Carl Phillips, a poet recently honored by our trustees with the 2013 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement. You’ll find his essay thoughtful, challenging, moving. And the rest of this issue and celebratory year? Adazzle.
—D. H. L.