Editing a literary journal is a professional calling, but it is also a labor of love. The editors I know all put in significantly more hours than we are paid to (only a few of us are paid at all) to bring out the best constellations of contemporary work we can find. Different editors have different models in their minds-different metaphorical conceits they use to describe just what they are doing (or trying to do) to themselves and others.
I've long thought of each issue of a literary journal as a conversation: an imbricating panorama of voices. Just as at any party some conversations are more interesting than others, so it is with literary journals, journal by journal, issue by issue. When I was starting out as a poet, I well remember that certain conversations were not, at the time, to my taste. Others enthralled me, but I was content to remain on the edge, a listener and observer. And then there were those that made me desperately want to be part of that particular conversation.
Or not me, per se: my work. I wanted my poems to be talking to those poems, those essays, those short stories. For me, this is still the thrill of seeing a poem of mine in a journal: not seeing my own name in print, but seeing the poem in the context of others' works, seeing how my poem subtly changes (or seems to change) in a new context. Which it to say: how it becomes part of the larger conversation that is literature.
It's common coinage in literary circles today to make fun of just how large a readership most literary journals don't have, beyond a handful of libraries and the contributors' copies that go out with each issue. What has long bothered me, however, is how incoherent, how disconnected some of these conversations seem. One reason for this, I think, has been the move to annual or biannual publication by many journals. It keeps printing and mailing costs down, but it also makes each issue of the journal as an ongoing conversation that much more tenuous.
With that in mind, and with support from our sponsoring institution, we are pleased to announce that as of this fall West Branch is increasing its frequency: from two print issues per year to three, alongside three issues of West Branch Wired, our independent online version. This will enable us to publish more of the work we want to see, the way we want to see it-in conversation with other work we love.
Each year West Branch is pleased to welcome a new associate poetry editor, in the form of Bucknell's new Stadler Fellow. With West Branch 71, Fall 2012, we say goodbye to Diana Park, who has worked on the journal for the past two years. We will miss her! And we welcome Carolina Ebeid, who has just joined us in Lewisburg from Austin, and who will begin reading for West Branch in January. Austin's loss is our gain. We also wish goodbye and hearty best wishes to Caitlin Horrocks, one of our associate fiction editors, who leaves us to become the new fiction editor of The Kenyon Review.
Carolina, continuing Stadler Fellow Jamaal May, managing editor Andrew Ciotola, and our three associate fiction editors (Laura van den Berg, Cam Terwilliger, and Matthew Pitt) all welcome your best work this year. Send us your evidence of wonder.