It’s autumn and the air is less weighted, finally less humid, here in Louisville, home of Good River Review at the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University. Driving home from campus the other day, I didn’t have to be told that Kentucky’s fall color has hit its peak. I could feel the leafy tree crowns vibrating in their orange, yellow, and red glory coats. Color I hope I can hold in my imagination, color to sustain through the dark evenings coming soon.
What sustains, though, when we see news of our venerable literary magazines closing down at academic institutions across our country? It’s been heartrending to read that The Gettysburg Review, a thirty-five-year-old journal, winner of many prestigious literary prizes and honors, admired and read by so many, has been shuttered by Gettysburg College and will soon go dark.
In these times of lower undergraduate enrollments, colleges are understandably looking for ways to cut costs, but it was still shocking to hear that Gettyburg’s administrators had decided to close their eminent review forever. After all, the only reason I’d known anything about Gettysburg College was through The Gettysburg Review. What a winter it is when college and university administrators don’t have the imagination to understand the many ways literary magazines feed our students’ intellectual lives.
Years ago, while pursuing my MFA, I served as poetry co-editor of The Greensboro Review with my dear friend, late poet and teacher Claudia Emerson, who would go on to win the Pulitzer in poetry in 2006 with her remarkable collection Late Wife. We spent a whole glorious year reading and talking about hundreds of poems, trying to winnow down the work we thought most deserved publication in the issues we were responsible for. How much poorer my life would have been if I hadn’t had that opportunity for creative partnership, enriching discussions, and critical reading. I’m determined to recreate that valuable experience for our own MFA students at Spalding.
The great theologian, philosopher, and educator Howard Thurman once advised, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” If only all holding the purse strings valued that sentiment.
I’m grateful for Good River Review, and other literary journals, for sharing work that helps us feel more alive, that helps us bring more fully felt humanity to our world.
I’m grateful for all the Naslund-Mann MA and MFA in Writing student readers and editors who have read, talked about, mused over, then recommended pieces to be included in this issue.
I’m grateful for the marvelously dedicated staff who puts the magazine together with meticulous care for the written word, and for, of course, the writers who trust us to showcase their work.
Issue 6 is strong: readers will find meaningful poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, drama, interviews, and reviews. Reading through our pages, I feel thankful, too, for The Gettysburg Review and the excellent example it has provided for writers and editors all these many years.
Mark Drew, the editor of The Gettysburg Review, posted this statement on their website after they received news that the magazine would no longer be published: “As for us, heartbroken as we are, we would love to hear about what the Gettysburg Review has meant to you. Please send condolences, anecdotes, and other stray and helpful thoughts to Lauren [Lauren Hohle, Managing Editor] and me, and if we can, we will share them on our site and social media channels.” I hope you’ll enjoy this issue of Good River, and I hope, too, that you’ll consider, and better sooner than later, writing to thank Mark Drew and Lauren Hohle for their superb work at The Gettysburg Review.
Editor in Chief