Dorsey: Evergreen Review closing its doors?Written by John Dorsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A few weeks ago I’m sitting in the basement of a bookstore in Cleveland Heights waiting for my girlfriend to read a few poems, when I get a piece of disheartening news, the Evergreen Review may be closing its doors forever.
I had seen this coming for a while now, since the death of Editor and Grove Press founder Barney Rosset in February 2012. Still I’m blown away. Somehow I thought they would reinvent themselves yet again, rise from the ashes, whatever. Evergreen, which began in 1957 as a print publication, and ran in that format until 1973, published work by authors like Albert Camus, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Susan Sontag, Allen Ginsberg, Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, Bertolt Brecht, and the list goes on and on. Let’s just say some of the most important literary thinkers of the second half of the 20th Century.
They reappeared on the scene in 1998, once again under Rosset’s direction, to both publish and mentor a whole new generation of the world’s literary elite. Only this time their format was all electronic. And then this news of their possible closing, sitting there on their Facebook page for the entire world to see. The thought literally makes me tear up a little bit.
Why am I’m sharing this with you? For a few reasons. The first being that they are looking for submissions and why shouldn’t Toledo authors get a chance to be a part of history? More on that in a second. My second reason is that it has me thinking about the death of the magazine, both as an outlet and as a steppingstone for writers at every stage of their career.
Look around you, everywhere you turn these days there seems to be another print on demand service, from Lulu to CreateSpace, they’re everywhere and just getting cheaper every day. While this may seem like a good thing on the surface, I’m just not sure.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see the power of publishing back firmly in the hands of the people, a million potential Walt Whitmans just waiting for their chance to shine. That all sounds great, but along with all of this progress in the tech revolution, I’ve noticed a rather disturbing trend, a lot of young authors are bypassing magazine publishing entirely and are going straight to book publication.
At this point, you may be saying, so what? What’s the big deal? When I came up in the world of DIY print magazines 20 years ago, you toiled for years in the hopes that someone might notice what you were doing and offer to do a book for you. You built a name for yourself, an audience for your work and not just your mom and the rest of the Facebook faithful, but readers that met you for the first time on the page. I’ll admit I had a hard time making the jump to online publications, but in the end a magazine is a magazine, I guess. A few months ago, I even had a bookstore owner tell me, “Oh John, people just aren’t buying those anymore.” He was referring to non academic literary magazines. So this column isn’t so much about the possible impending death of one great literary magazine, but the death of literary tradition. Has the literary magazine outlived its usefulness? I hope not. For me the literary magazine was more than just a venue for career advancement, it was and still is a place to find out what you like and maybe just maybe make a few friends along the way.
Until next time…keep your pencil sharp.
John Dorsey is a widely published poet. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Tags: Albert Camus, Allen Ginsberg, Barney Rosset, Bertolt Brecht, Cleveland Heights, CreateSpace, Grove Press, Henry Miller, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lulu, Pushcart Prize, Samuel Beckett, Susan Sontag, Walt Whitman