Announcing a New Journal Partner
UNC Press is happy to have formed a new publishing partnership with The Greensboro Review, which has just published issue Number 105 (Spring 2019).
Published by the UNC Greensboro MFA Writing Program, the journal showcase writers whose work may be risk-taking or overlooked. Terry L. Kennedy, editor, and Jessie Van Rheenen, associate editor, discuss the journal’s history and its place in creative writing circles today.
The Greensboro Review often showcases authors who are unpublished or relatively unknown, some of whom go on to very successful literary careers. Can you tell us about some of those success stories?
During its initial years, the GR published Yusef Komunyakaa’s early poetry–two decades before Komunyakaa received the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Pulitzer Prize–and one of Lewis Nordan’s first stories to appear in print. In 1988, the GR awarded its Literary Prize to Larry Brown for a very early story that Margaret Atwood soon after selected for Best American Short Stories. More recently, we’ve featured debut or early-career work from Christine Sneed, Megan Mayhew Bergman, David James Poissant, and Jesse Goolsby. We published Benjamin Percy back in 2003, and that story, “The Language of Elk,” became the title story of his first collection–and of course, Percy now has four novels, a craft book, a third story collection on the way from Graywolf, and a sci-fi trilogy to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
From the other side of the process, editors of The Greensboro Review have also gone on to establish prominent journals and presses, and have had great literary success in their own right–including Claudia Emerson (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and poet laureate of Virginia), Kelly Link (MacArthur ‘Genius’ recipient and Pulitzer Prize finalist) and Ansel Elkins (Yale Younger Poets Prize and NEA Fellow), to mention just a few.
The journal is published by the faculty and students of the Master of Fine Arts Writing Program at UNC Greensboro. What kinds of experience do your students get working on the journal?
Our graduate students in creative writing serve as editors and editorial interns on The Greensboro Review, reading and responding to poems and stories from around the world. This year we’ve had a record number of submissions, which leads to a lot of lively discussion in our editorial deliberations. The GR is what longtime director and editor Jim Clark called an “editing laboratory,” so students undertake every stage of the process–from calling up writers to accept their pieces, to writing lengthy query letters and going back and forth with authors on everything from larger-scale structural changes to finer points of The Chicago Manual of Style. We believe that this collaborative and intensive approach helps make the writing shine, but also gives our graduates an impressive set of skills to bring to any writing or editorial pursuit.
The journal has evolved since it was founded in 1966, but it has also kept a refreshingly “old-school” approach in many ways, with a firm focus on the writing. Can you describe how the journal has changed but also how it has stayed true to its original vision?
The journal began as a space for students to publish their work in the early years of the MFA–UNC Greensboro was one of the first such programs in the country–but then quickly evolved. Even as the GR started to feature prominent writers like Joyce Carol Oates, Ezra Pound, and Robert Bly, it kept an emphasis on emerging voices and highlighting risk-taking work that might be passed over by other journals. Our design also stays true to that inaugural 1966 issue, with the same logo from Greensboro painter Betty Watson; we like to think we leave the acrobatics and experimentation to the writers we publish, who never cease to surprise us with their fresh language, vision, and approaches to storytelling.
You are open to general submissions every November to February, but also have some special reading periods. Can you tell us more about the contests or prizes associated with The Greensboro Review?
Since the ’80s, The Greensboro Review has sponsored the Robert Watson Literary Prize, an annual contest with a cash prize of $1,000 for the best short story and poem published in our spring issue. These prizes are another way we bring attention to new voices and recognize the work of talented writers.
The Amon Liner Poetry Prize, established in memory of the North Carolina poet, is also given every year for the best student poem to appear in The Greensboro Review. This past year, the prize went to Forrest Rapier’s poem, “Appaloosa Rider Unchained.”
You have readers across the U.S. and quite a few international subscribers as well. Tell us about your audience and also who you see as your peers out there in the world of literary journals.
Our audience is broad–really anyone who enjoys the pleasure of reading a good story or poem, especially those readers who care most about what’s within the covers. As a whole, our readership seems interested in original, vivid, and concise language on timely, or timeless, topics. We often think of our peers as other literary journals that have been around for decades, as well as those with strong ties to universities or communities of writers. The Sewanee Review is one, along with The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Kenyon Review, and The Southern Review.
Can you give us a few highlights from the spring 2019 issue?
We’re very excited about this 105th issue, which features the winners of our most recent Robert Watson Literary Prizes—Sarah Heying for her story, “The Chair Kickers’ Tale,” and Lena Khalaf Tuffaha for her poem, “Miss Sahar Listens to Fairuz Sing ‘The Bees’ Path.’” The seventeen other short stories and poems capture the sort of range we’re proud to publish, from a story by Sharon Solwitz, whose writing has been anthologized multiple times in Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize anthology, to a poem from Maya Salameh, a freshman at Stanford University just embarking on her literary career.
For more information on The Greensboro Review, visit their website.
For more information on the UNC Press Office of Scholarly Publishing Services (OSPS), visit the OSPS webpage.