Editor’s Notes & Cover Art

About the Cover

Our cover design features a photograph by Mariana Cook, titled “My Wall in Snow, Chilmark, Massachusetts.”

Cook’s photographic study of stone walls began here when her neighbor’s fifty-six cows barged through these rocks to graze the day before Thanksgiving, 2002. After the herd returned home, she examined the broken wall. The ancient beauty of these stones inspired her to photograph them.

Over the next eight years, she continued to study stone walls, traveling to Britain, Ireland, the Mediterranean, Peru, New England, and Kentucky to capture their sculptural presence in landscape and nature. Her photographs are reproduced in her newest book, Stone Walls: Personal Boundaries (Damiani Editore) with a letter from Wendell Berry.

Mariana Cook is the last protégée of Ansel Adams. Her masterful photographs of people both in and out of the public eye have been widely published and exhibited.

Her works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Portrait Gallery, the Getty Museum, the Bibliotheque National, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and more. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

© 2011 Mariana Cook

Editor’s Notes

In looking through the current Table of Contents and reading once again what is, if I may say, quite a remarkable collection of stories, poems, and essays, I’m struck by how long it has been since I actually made these selections. My fresh delight in discovering old friends—Eamon Grennan or Grace Schulman, for example—and exciting new voices—Asali Solomon and Zsófia Bán, not to mention the winner and runners-up of the KR Short Fiction Contest—almost matches that initial instance of twelve months ago or so. Given the care of our production process, the back-and-forth of copyediting and queries, a year is about right.

After all, one of the defining traits of The Kenyon Review has always been its polish: magical covers, the painstaking copyediting mentioned above, the care with which individual pieces are mixed and matched. (Typically, we are shuffling the contents of two or three or even four issues at a time, inserting a story here, switching a poem that-aways, always seeking an elusive balance of many elements.) Surely the physical, tactile, thinginess of this artifact, this journal, has been part of its allure. Yet as more and more of our readers enjoy The Review via the Amazon Kindle or other electronic devices, it will be interesting to consider how that affects the equation.

Not so long ago our lead time had begun to stretch a good bit farther. Some pieces lingered of necessity a full two years before we could get them into print. And that was surely too long. Worse still, for the first time since I became editor we’d begun to decline submissions we wanted to publish. These were two of the compelling reasons we launched our complementary electronic magazine KROnline—though I’d long anticipated taking that leap. As a result, rather than simply reproducing what we were already offering in print—as some publications have chosen—KRO provided both more space to publish remarkable new work as well as the opportunity to shape an aesthetic vision for a new medium, a new era. More about that below.

Little wonder, however, that some of our readers have grown a little confused about the relationship—and the distinction—not only between the print and the electronic, but between the Kindle version of The Kenyon Review and the Internet-based KROnline.

Here’s an attempt at clarification: an electronic version (essentially a replica) of The Kenyon Review is now available at Amazon.com through its Kindle software. This was not an easy decision, harder by far than launching KROnline. And the negotiations on that agreement were long and difficult. But we have come to realize that our core mission includes sharing the journal’s exceptional literature with as many people around the world as possible. Unquestionably, the Kindle will dramatically increase our reach. (And the Kindle version is available for only 99 cents a month.)

KROnline, on the other hand, has a worldwide reach as well and is entirely its own entity. Available for free at kenyonreview.org, it also offers stories, poems, creative nonfiction, and book reviews—lots of short book reviews—in an attractive Web-based format not found in print or Kindle.

Sometimes, it’s true, we publish a poem or two by an author in KROnline and others from the same submission in The Kenyon Review. We are obviously keen to have readers enjoy both venues for great writing and perhaps be tempted from one to explore the other. One example was Mark Strand’s exceptional new poems in KR Winter 2012 and on KRO as well. Some months ago we even bribed Albert Goldbarth—a fundamentalist digitiphobe—to allow one of his marvelous essay-poems to appear in KROnline by offering to handset it on a letterpress as well. Other wonders by him in that set appeared, as so often before, in The Kenyon Review.

As you may recall, I have also claimed that KROnline’s governing aesthetic is its own. On this site we offer literature that is perhaps more timely (because we can publish there in a matter of weeks, days if necessary, as we did with the astonishing essay last summer about the first free vote in Libya by Khaled Mattawa). Pieces may also be shorter, more experimental—more “out there.” After several years of these efforts I’m pretty certain that a meaningful aesthetic difference does exist between the two media, print and Web. It can’t always be precise—the standards for both venues are exceptionally high, and sometimes it may be little more than instinct that assigns a story or poem to one rather than the other.

Lastly, it should be interesting to see how that relationship between the two publications, The Kenyon Review and KROnline, evolves. We will surely continue to try to reach a larger audience, while maintaining our roots as well. Eventually, we hope that anyone who cares about great writing will easily be able to find and read all that we have on offer.

—D. H. L.

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