Editor’s Notes & Cover Art

About the Cover

Our cover design by John Pickard features a silver-gelatin photograph by André Kertész, titled “Fire Escape, 1949.”

Kertész often captured whimsical, quiet moments on city streets.

He was born in Budapest, Hungary, on July 2, 1894, then moved to Paris in 1925 to pursue magazine photography.

His unconventional approach to camera angles was not appreciated until he joined with other immigrant artists and the Dada movement to gain wider critical success. Because of German persecution and the threat of World War II, Kertész decided to immigrate to the United States in 1936. He worked at House & Garden magazine for many years. By 1962, he left the commercial magazine business to pursue his own art. At the time of his death in 1985, Kertész’s work was honored by artists, collected by major museums and galleries, and studied by scholars who recognize his many contributions to the art of photography.

© Estate of André Kertész/Higher Pictures.

Special thanks to the International Center for Photography for their assistance.

Editor’s Notes

Well over 400 applications whizzed electronically into our offices during the winter, each in hope of capturing a new Kenyon Review Fellowship. I confess to feeling somewhat overwhelmed. Almost all of the applicants were qualified; half were strong candidates; about 100 were dazzling. We winnowed toward a dozen individuals for interviews in Chicago. Four visited Gambier to teach a sample class and present a reading of their work. And two remarkable writers and teachers have, ultimately, been awarded two-year fellowships.

The principal criterion in the selection process was the quality, achievement, and promise of the work. Many applications offered glimpses of great promise, yet we sensed that the authors had not quite come into their own as yet. Equally, many candidates seemed perhaps too far along already, having published more than one book and been honored with other grants and fellowships—for them ours would be merely another stud on the belt, an honor but not an essential step forward in their career.

Unlike the original KR Fellowships offered by John Crowe Ransom in the 1950s, however, the poet and prose writers we have selected will reside in Gambier, teaching one class a year, learning editorial skills in our offices, sharing in our vibrant literary community. So although talent and promise were supreme, teaching experience had to be considered as well.

It is good news, of course, that so many talented young writers practice their craft across this country and beyond. Never before has so much fine literature been created than in our own moment. Reasons abound. Creative writing classes have come to be standard offerings offered not only in colleges and universities, but in primary and secondary schools. Many hundreds of MFA and PhD programs exist today as well, compared to the mere handful a generation ago.

Writers also belong to a national community of like-minded authors who share values and interests, who read each other supportively as well as critically. Countless local writing groups, workshops, and summer programs are to be thanked, as well as, perhaps most of all, the Internet. This larger community does somewhat ameliorate the age-old truism of hopeful writers laboring in isolation and obscurity.

At the same time, the fact that so many talented writers are seeking publication and employment can also be troubling news. So many of them want, need, and yes, deserve positions both as teachers and as practitioners of their art. Sadly, the days when the rapid expansion of writing programs (see above) offered ever-spreading opportunities for their own graduates lie largely behind us.

The principal goal of the KR Fellowships aligns with our larger mission: to identify and support exceptional writers in the early stages of their careers. We pursue that mission, naturally, by evaluating the thousands of submissions received each year for The Kenyon Review and KROnline. In the case of the fellowships, we have also deliberated long and hard during the grueling selection process so that, after two years spent working on a major project, as well as teaching, working with mentors, and gaining editorial experience, the fellows will be ready to pursue a lifetime’s challenge.

—D. H. L.

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