The New Editor of the Paris Re­view

Poets and Writers - - Trends - –DANA ISOKAWA

In April, Emily Ne­mens, then the coed­i­tor of the South­ern Re­view in Ba­ton Rouge, Louisiana, was named the new editor of the Paris Re­view. Ne­mens started the new po­si­tion at the Paris

Re­view’s New York City of­fice in June and suc­ceeds Lorin Stein, who re­signed in De­cem­ber 2017 amid al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct to­ward fe­male staffers and writ­ers. Ne­mens takes over a sto­ried pub­li­ca­tion that is much more than a print quar­terly—the magazine reg­u­larly runs on­line con­tent, pro­duces videos and a pod­cast, hosts events, and pub­lishes books through Paris Re­view Edi­tions. A few weeks be­fore the Fall 2018 is­sue, her first, came out, Ne­mens spoke about her plans for the Paris

Re­view and her ap­proach to edit­ing. Are there any new series or forms of cov­er­age for the print quar­terly in the works? The guest po­etry editor pro­gram is re­ally ex­cit­ing. The Win­ter Is­sue, which comes out in De­cem­ber, will be with Shane McCrae pick­ing the po­etry. I’m re­ally ex­cited to work with him. I think the magazine does so much re­ally well, and I don’t want to close the door on that—I re­ally just want to sup­port it. So I think there will be in­cre­men­tal growth across all the sec­tions of the magazine. I’d re­ally like to reen­gage with the es­say, which wasn’t al­ways in the magazine, so mak­ing a point to re­con­nect with that form is a pri­or­ity. I have a visual arts back­ground, so I’d like to col­lab­o­rate with the arts com­mu­nity to not just fig­ure out strik­ing cov­ers, but to re­ally en­gage with what’s go­ing on in the art world.

Af­ter Lorin Stein re­signed in De­cem­ber, the jour­nal’s board mem­bers re­leased a state­ment say­ing that they had “re­vised [the Paris Re­view’s] code of con­duct and anti-ha­rass­ment poli­cies.” How do you hope to build on that?

The board did a lot of good and im­por­tant work be­fore I ever got here. I was brought up to speed on all of those new poli­cies, and there was great work­place sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing and a lot of other re­sources brought in this spring. So I feel like a lot of the hard work was done be­fore I ar­rived. But un­der­stand­ing re­ally what it means to be in a safe and col­lab­o­ra­tive and col­le­gial work en­vi­ron­ment and em­pha­siz­ing that ev­ery day—that’s where I come in.

How do you think you can achieve that? It starts and ends with re­spect­ing ev­ery­one in the of­fice no mat­ter what their role is or how long they’ve been here. I think it’s be­ing sen­si­tive and em­pa­thetic to peo­ple’s work, but also to their lives out­side of work with­out pry­ing. And un­der­stand­ing that we’re all col­leagues, but we’re also peo­ple, and just hav­ing that be my base­line as a boss. I’ve been try­ing to sys­tem­at­i­cally work my way around the of­fice and fig­ure out with peo­ple what they’re work­ing on, what they want to be work­ing on, and what their short- and long-term goals are. I think start­ing with that and mak­ing sure we’re hav­ing reg­u­lar check-ins sets a prece­dent for this as a dy­namic and car­ing place.

What does a good re­la­tion­ship be­tween a writer and an editor look like to you?

I ap­proach re­la­tion­ships with my writ­ers with a lot of en­thu­si­asm and cu­rios­ity. I’m a pretty—I’m not go­ing to say tough—but I’m a pretty en­gaged editor, and I do a lot of ed­its. I think the only way for those to go over well is if you de­liver them with kind­ness. And usu­ally that works—it doesn’t al­ways work—but usu­ally that works. I also bring that sort of re­la­tion­ship on the page to con­ver­sa­tions and re­la­tion­ships [in per­son]. And even if I don’t con­nect with a writer on a par­tic­u­lar piece, I try to sup­port the work and the per­son mak­ing the work. I spend a lot of time say­ing, “No, but please keep in touch,” and, “No, I’m not go­ing to pub­lish this, but I care about your work, and I’m ex­cited about it, so let me keep read­ing it.”

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