Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

Editing THERMOS, Part 1: David Hamilton & the Assent of Friends

How do you assemble a magazine? Big tent, buzzing scene, modest assay, thumbed crumbs? THERMOS co-editor Zach Savich writes:

In the Spring 2009 issue of The Iowa Review, long-time editor David Hamilton reflects on his years with the magazine. His essay, “At the Fair II,” articulates an editorial philosophy—“everything else is peripheral to our saying ‘Yes’ to writers we do not know, writers who don’t emerge from our own circle, who may have sent their work from anywhere and who have found favor so far only where they were assented to by friends”—then examines the personal and literary procedures that support his “Zen of Reception.”

Like other pieces by Hamilton (such as his review linking Creeley to Hardy and Herrick in the Fall 2008 Iowa Review), the essay gains depth by extension, rather than hunkering. Hamilton does not hide out in one narrow, critical haunt but walks his reader around a hospitable expanse.

This approach seems right for anyone who wishes to live in the world, not just look at poems lodged in hard-to-reach places. It matches the receptive spirit of Hamilton’s editing.

I saw this spirit in action when I served as an assistant editor and volunteer reader with the review from 2004-2007.  It calmed and broadened me during graduate school. Like the Human Rights Index that begins each issue, editorial work at the The Iowa Review reminded me that poetry can be distinct from an MFA community’s exhilirating fashions and chatter.

I spent a lot of time in those years trying to make myself proficiently grotesque in modes that seemed on the cutting edge of poetic evolution. Continue reading

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