The Way We Live Now

We've reached the end of our reading period, and by the end of July, I'll have signed off as Acting Editor, at which time we will welcome back our devoted Editor, GC Waldrep, from his travels. It's been gratifying to return this year to a magazine with which I've been affiliated, in one way or another, for more than a decade. In that time, West Branch has expanded from a magazine publishing in print twice yearly into a magazine publishing six times yearly, with those six issues divided evenly between print and online formats. Concurrently, since 2008 when West Branch began accepting online submissions, we've seen an exponential growth in our annual number of submissions; this boom has allowed us to increase our number of yearly issues while also maintaining (or increasing) our standards for publication. We generate less paper waste. Writers save time and money by using our online submissions manager. Readers have more choices for mediums in which read us, and more opportunities to read us.

In these ways, at least, the cultural migration from print into digital technology has benefited the health of the literary community in general, and of this magazine in particular. It's easy to lament the time one spends jumping from app to app on a Smartphone screen, and to imagine we have an either/or situation on our hands: to embrace digital technology or to turn away from it. But, of course, we can do both: embrace and turn away.

To embrace: read the six West Branch poems that have appeared since this past summer on the Verse Daily and Poetry Daily websites. Or take in the new West Branch Wired, with poets introduced by this year's National Book Award winner Mary Szybist, and fiction by Cole Bucciaglia and A. A. Srinivasan.

To turn away: open a copy of Best American Mystery Stories, and find two pieces first published in this magazine — Matthew Neill Null's "Gauley Season" and Roxane Gay's "I Will Follow You." Or crack the spine of the new West Branch, which includes poetry by Diana Khoi Nguyen, Leslie Harrison, Todd Davis, Jehanne Dubrow, Karyna McGlynn, and Richard Foerster, among others, as well as stories by Alyssa Knickerbocker and John Smolens, and Jesse Lee Kercheval's verse translations of Circe Maia.

To embrace: you're reading this note.

Turn away, then embrace: a dance. The way we live now is the way we've lived.

—K. A. Hays