Editor’s Notes & Cover Art

Errata: C. S. Giscombe’s name was erroneously printed on the back cover of the Winter 2012 issue as “G. S. Giscombe.” We apologize for this error; please note the correct spelling.

This issue was labeled on the spine as “Fall 2012.” It is indeed the Winter 2012 issue.

About the Cover

Our cover design by John Pickard features a New York photograph by André Kertész, titled “Washington Square, Winter 1954.”

Throughout his life, Kertész quietly influenced the development of photographic composition and the photo essay.

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

Balancing Act

Ah, the first issue of a volume year. One of those mile posts that possesses little intrinsic meaning — and other than a new series of our celebrated cover photographs, there’s not much in this issue to suggest significant change. No special topic. No fresh development in our design or conception.

And yet, as I glance at the table of contents for Winter 2012, I’m reminded of one of the never-ending challenges of editing The Kenyon Review: maintaining the many different kinds of balance we try always to strike. Unlike some other magazines, for example, we offer quite a mix of genres, obviously fiction and poetry, literary nonfiction (I really do prefer essay, but I’ve lost that battle), some criticism and reviews, the occasional short piece of drama or interview. Balance.

I also notice less in the way of international writing and literature in translation here than we usually seek. There are, I promise, outstanding examples of both in our upcoming Spring 2012 issue. In defense I’ll plead that these are among the most difficult submissions to acquire. Successful translation, after all, requires two meaningful works of art — the original, which must merit the long labors of the translator, as well as a reader’s later attention, and the new piece, the translation itself, which will be related to but also greatly separate from the original text. It must take on a beauty, power, life of its own.

We also try very hard not to reflect any particular literary fashion or theoretical stance, what used to be called a “school” of writing. In reading submissions I typically am working about a year out from actual publication, which allows us to fiddle with several issues at once, seeking variety, seeking balance. So different forms of verse may appear in any given issue, some formal, some free, some hybrid. Likewise, I’ll try to represent different styles of fiction as well. And in the effort to escape the limits of one person’s tastes or predilections, my colleagues will not infrequently say to me something such as, “You won’t like this, but it’s great in what it does and we should publish it.” Not infrequently, I’ll agree.

What really set me musing on balance as I gazed at the TOC, however, goes to the very heart of KR’s mission as I understand it. And that is our publishing both the great, highly distinguished authors of our moment — the Roger Rosenblatts and Marilyn Hackers, the Charles Wrights and David St. Johns, T. R. Hummers, Mark Strands,(I’m leaving out others and, oh, I regret it!) — alongside stunning new talents — the Kellie Wellses and Joanna Klinks and Randall Manns of the world.

Maintaining this balance is harder than you may think. It means saying no, sometimes, to friends, wonderful writers, who may have sent a piece that isn’t quite at the top of their game. And it means reading thousands and thousands of unsolicited submissions, looking always for the hidden gem, publishing largely unknown writers and developing relationships with them, some of them, that will stretch across years and even decades until they are the great and distinguished names.

Perhaps a first step on that trajectory may come with the KR Short Fiction Contest. We are proud to publish here the winning, very fine story from 2011, “Chiasmus,” by Fan Li, as well as the two runners-up, by Anna Kovatcheva and Nichols Ford Malick. I am also glad to announce, for the sake of fairness as well as balance, that when the 2012 Short Fiction Contest opens in February, there will be no age limitation. Anyone who has not published a full book of fiction will be welcome to enter.

— D. H. L.

Back to top ↑

Sign up for Our Email Newsletter