20 May 2009

Middlebury College to Kill New England Review

According to Inside Higher Ed, Middlebury College has announced that it will pull funding from The New England Review by 2011 "if the publication doesn't become self-supporting."

This hits home for me in a few ways -- NER was one of the first lit mags I ever read, because at the time I became interested in such things, the local college library subscribed (and still does). As a teenager, I attended the Bread Loaf Young Writers' Conference, met the managing editor, and got her to sign a copy of the magazine for me (for a while, NER was known as The New England Review & Bread Loaf Quarterly, and I still tend to think of it as NER/BLQ). Later, I attended the adult version of Bread Loaf, and though NER's official relationship with the conference was less by then, many of its staff members still attended, as well as numerous writers it had published.

NER was also one of the earliest supporters of Best American Fantasy, and I'm thrilled that BAF 3 will be reprinting a story they first published (no, I still can't release the list of stories -- we're still trying to get rights to a couple).

Most literary journals survive either through institutional support or from major donors. Some people have argued that literary journals are outmoded, useless, filled with mediocre writing, etc. Some are. But not NER -- it's one of the great ones. Its mix of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction is among the best and most diverse in this country.

I hope that whoever is in charge of this decision at Middlebury will reconsider; if they don't, I hope NER is able to find a new home that is worthy of it.