Editor’s Note

New England Review - - Editor’s Note -

With this is­sue, NEW ENG­LAND RE­VIEW wel­comes our new po­etry editor, Rick Barot. While Rick is known out in the world for his ac­com­plish­ments as a poet, es­say­ist, and teacher, I’ve more re­cently learned that he also spends time as­sem­bling min­i­mal­ist washi tape col­lages and has read, among many other things, all five vol­umes of The Di­ary of Vir­ginia Woolf, more than once over. In the course of se­lect­ing po­ems for this is­sue, I’ve also dis­cov­ered that he has a pen­chant for ask­ing the hard ques­tions, the big ques­tions: What is NER for? What is our role in cur­rent events and con­ver­sa­tions? What makes a piece of writ­ing last be­yond its im­me­di­ate pub­li­ca­tion date? Must it, will it, should it? Why is so much of what we se­lect so dark? When it comes to the po­ems in­di­vid­u­ally he’s just as in­quis­i­tive and presses just as hard. He ex­am­ines what may have been in­tended ver­sus what has been said, what one per­son might hear and another will not. And once he asks his ques­tions, he ac­tu­ally lis­tens to the re­sponse, turns re­sponses into con­ver­sa­tions, and con­ver­sa­tions into the ar­tic­u­la­tion of a vi­sion for what literature and literary mag­a­zines can do.

What we’re go­ing for, then, he said is “rigor and am­pli­tude.” In other words, NER is a place for what’s new and what’s ur­gent, but it’s also a place where longevity mat­ters. While we can never be sure if a par­tic­u­lar piece of writ­ing will live be­yond its im­me­di­ate con­text, we can look at it from var­i­ous an­gles, at dif­fer­ent times of day, put it through var­i­ous tests. Even then some­times you just can’t ex­plain what makes it work and why you’re cer­tain that it does. We’ll make mis­takes, of course, but I know that, like his pre­de­ces­sor—and like our hard-work­ing as­so­ciate ed­i­tors in prose—rick brings ex­ac­ti­tude and joy to the con­ver­sa­tion; in­ter­ro­ga­tion and an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the risk writ­ers take each time they cre­ate some­thing new.

Rick is no stranger to this mag­a­zine; he’s just pulled his chair closer to the ta­ble. He first came to NER as a poet, ap­pear­ing as far back as 1998 (19.3). Just be­fore we en­listed him as po­etry editor in 2014, we pub­lished his es­say “The Im­age Fac­tory” (34.3-4). In be­tween he served for sev­eral years as a sub­mis­sions reader, where he eval­u­ated thou­sands of po­ems for pos­si­ble pub­li­ca­tion in our pages.

In his first is­sue as po­etry editor, Rick set out to present a se­lec­tion of po­ets who’d never pub­lished in NER be­fore. He con­tacted some of his po­etry “he­roes,” some peo­ple who, as he said, seem like they should have been in NER but just hadn’t been caught in the net, and oth­ers who just had not yet found a place here. In keep­ing with that in­ten­tion, all the po­ets in this is­sue ap­pear in NER for the first time, so at the same time as we welcome Rick to his new role, we also welcome these twelve po­ets to our pages.

The Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Arts has granted NER $10,000 again in 2015 to pub­lish and pro­mote the mag­a­zine and its web­site. We used much of our 2014 grant from the NEA to pay writ­ers, rais­ing our hon­o­rar­ium for the first time in twenty years. Be­cause of this new grant we’ll be able to con­tinue pay­ing at a higher rate through the next vol­ume. But this year we’re go­ing to do even bet­ter: be­gin­ning in 2015 we will pay con­trib­u­tors to NER Dig­i­tal, our fea­ture of orig­i­nal writ­ing for the web. Up un­til now writ­ers have been gra­cious enough to al­low their work to be pub­lished online for the gift of a sub­scrip­tion to NER, but now we’ll be able to of­fer them an hon­o­rar­ium as well.

As we en­ter this new phase for NER Dig­i­tal, we’d like to tip our hats to as­so­ciate editor J. M. Tyree for his ded­i­ca­tion to the pro­ject—for mas­ter­mind­ing the idea and rais­ing it up through its first few years. While he has re­cently shifted his ed­i­to­rial fo­cus over to the jour­nal’s non­fic­tion, NER Dig­i­tal con­tin­ues to grow un­der the di­rec­tion of man­ag­ing editor Marcy Par­low, who brings new energy and at­ten­tion to this lively cor­ner of our web­site. Our cur­rent se­ries— “Con­flu­ences”—has so far fea­tured imag­i­na­tive re­sponses to pho­to­graphs, films, paint­ings, and po­ems, with short per­sonal es­says on Ing­mar Bergman, Vi­vian Maier, Dos­to­evsky, Kara Walker, Hal Hart­ley, Gaudi, Tammy Wynette, Rodgers and Ham­mer­stein, Anselm Kiefer, and more.

NEA sup­port for NER in 2015 equals more sup­port for literature and its mak­ers. Thank you, Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Arts, and thank you for read­ing. Now turn the page.

— CK

Editor’s Note

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