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Post Road’s new address
The University adopts a 10-year-old journal
Post Road, the literary journal that publishes some 400 pages of fiction, poetry, essays, and artwork a year, has taken up residence in Carney Hall, marking the start of a collaboration between the English department and its previous editors.
Like most literary journals—Agni and Ploughshares, to name two local examples—Post Road is not a large-circulation publication. The latest issue of the digest-size biannual had a print run of 2,000 copies, with the majority going to independent bookstores and college libraries. The 10-year-old journal’s reputation, however, travels more widely— the poem “Cock Robin,” by Miranda Field in issue 2, won a 2003 Pushcart Prize; a story from issue 8, “The Smile on Happy Chang’s Face,” by Tom Perrotta, was included in Best American Short Stories 2005; and the magazine received an honorable mention in the 2006 edition of Best American Essays, for Jon Stattmann’s “Trial by Trash.”
Post Road was begun by a group of graduates from the Bennington College Writing Seminars. According to founding co-editor Jaime Clarke, the editors looked at various “little magazines” and noticed “the same vanguard writers popping up. We wondered if we could publish a literary magazine that didn’t feature the works of prominent writers,” Clarke says. The founders realized, however, that established names lend credibility to a publication and attract readers, so they decided to include book reviews, or what they called “recommendations,” from well-known writers such as Susan Choi, David Leavitt, and Robert Pinsky.
The magazine was initially independent, with its functions scattered geographically—poetry submissions went to an editor in Cincinnati, fiction to Newton Centre, and nonfiction to Brooklyn. Beginning in 2006, Post Road became a collaborative undertaking, with the founders being joined by Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Literary Ventures Fund (LVF), a private not-for-profit foundation. The partnership ended in 2008, says Clarke, when LVF chose not to renew its investment and Lesley determined it “couldn’t go it alone.”
Post Road‘s alliance with Boston College took effect last spring. Despite the change of address, a number of original staff members continue to work on the magazine, including Ricco Siasoco, who until recently was Post Road‘s web editor. An adjunct faculty member in the English department since 2001, teaching the first-year writing seminar and creative nonfiction, Siasoco is now the magazine’s managing editor.
Boston College’s collaboration was advanced by the University’s Institute for the Liberal Arts, which, says Vice Provost Patricia DeLeeuw, aims to support “programs and projects that arise from and bridge the disciplines.” According to Mary Crane, chair of the English department, the magazine’s presence has “already benefited BC students in several ways.” She notes that Siasoco teaches a class called “Magazine Editing and Publishing,” and that the arrival of Post Road “offers graduate assistants and undergraduate interns an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in publishing a literary magazine.” Undergraduates now serve, for instance, as the first readers of all submissions. (Anyone can contribute to Post Road, except for Boston College undergraduates—who may do so once they graduate.) “We read a thousand submissions over two months,” says Siasoco.
The magazine’s format remains largely unchanged. The current editorial board consists of two longtime Post Road associates (founding co-editor David Ryan and art editor Susan Breen) and three Boston College English professors: Crane, Elizabeth Graver, and Suzanne Matson. New to Post Road is a “guest folio” feature, which will be edited each issue by a member of the Boston College English faculty. The first guest editor was Matson, a poet, who assembled 23 pages of poems; a sample, Joshua Rivkin’s “Tikkun,” can be found here. Graver, whose writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories, will edit a selection of fiction for an upcoming issue. Carlo Rotella, director of the American Studies Program and recipient of The American Scholar‘s prizes for Best Essay and Best Work by a Younger Writer in 2000, will prepare a forthcoming special section of nonfiction.
Issue 17, published in Spring 2009, is the first product of the University’s collaboration. With 192 pages of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and “recommendations,” it includes a poem entitled “Shame” about a night at a church-run shelter (“How normal everyone appeared at first, and then,/inexorably, their oddnesses leaked out”), an essay on the difficulty of teaching J.D. Salinger, and a story about Romanian exiles, graduate dissertations, and loyalty entitled “Drunk in English.”
Ken Gordon is the editor of JBooks.com.
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