About the Cover
Our cover design features a detail of a painting by Ellen Priest titled Jazz: Edward Simon’s Venezuelan Suite #17/18 © 2010, Ellen Priest. Papers, oil, flashe, pencil, MSA Gel. Diptych size: 42″x 98″. Each panel: 42″x 42″. This detail is from the right panel #18, which may be viewed on the back cover.
This work is one of three based on the 4th movement of Simon’s jazz suite, titled Maracaibo. Like each of the previous movements, Maracaibo is a traditional Venezuelan song form—this one a gaita, traditionally played at Christmas—composed in a jazz idiom. Simon chose a call-and-response format as well as jazz harmonic structures. So Priest composed her 4th-movement paintings as diptychs—two panels of equal size, images answering back and forth as the music does—a totally new format for her.
Keeping her work extremely specific to its jazz subject matter also keeps Priest’s work fresh. At this juncture, the artist is halfway through a new, several-year body of work based on Afro-Cuban jazz. The initial paintings, drawings, and brush studies use the music of Cuban percussionist Arturo Stable and Cuban pianist Elio Villafranca (CD: Dos Y Mas). This time, the musicians have taken the “conversation” further, improvising new music off Priest’s brush drawings. More of her work may be viewed online at www.ellenpriest.com.
From March 20–May 4, 2015, Priest’s new Cuban Series paintings and drawings will be exhibited at Saint Peter’s Church in New York City.
This is the last new quarterly issue of The Kenyon Review you’ll hold in your hands.
Don’t worry—the news is all good.
Beginning in January 2015 we will introduce a bold new design and format. Appearing bimonthly for the first time in seventy-five years, each issue will be about 120 pages, slimmed down from 200 pages or more in recent years. Six issues instead of four, and roughly the same total amount of superb literature.
This may seem odd, even abrupt, given the enthusiastic responses we’ve received to this anniversary year’s beautiful covers from the work of artist Ellen Priest. They are lovely. And I’ve never been prouder of the stories, poems, and essays we offer in these pages.
Yet I also sense that after many years the format of the Review has come to feel rather unwieldy, even intimidating. It’s a lot of heft arriving every three months.
I suspect there are—and I’ve heard from—faithful subscribers who receive the journal, hoist it once or twice, and then wind up setting it aside, with all worthy intentions, for later. Of course, all too often that extra time for leisurely browsing never seems to arrive.
We’ve spent over a year working on this innovative design. There was no need to rush, and it seemed propitious coming out of our anniversary celebrations to offer yet another stride into the future.
The new Kenyon Review will be fresh and inviting—I promise. When it arrives in a mailbox or through the slot in your door you’ll likely feel eager to flip through its pages. Perhaps you’ll remain standing just where you are, pausing to turn a poem over and round in your mouth. That telling first page of a story may hook you fast, allowing time only to sink into a comfortable seat.
Naturally, you can still plop the rest of the issue aside on a stack or bedside table for later—no one expects a reader to plow straight through, as if KR were that kind of book. No, no. This reading is about pleasure, about relishing. But it will surely be easier to pick up one of these attractive, slender issues before bedtime or as you’re heading out the door.
We’re surely not backing away from great writing, not relaxing our standards or our commitment one iota. Going forward, The Kenyon Review will faithfully publish literature that matters and to the standards we’ve proudly held all these years. Our future is brighter than ever.
—D. H. L.