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: A Quarterly Reader (and Writer) :

an excerpt by Thomas Washington

The first thing I look for when venturing into one of my quarterly subscriptions—I rotate a dozen or more journals annually and decide to retain or eliminate based on numerous factors, which I need not get into just yet—is the editor’s note. Most of the time I don’t find one. This is a sly move. Editors must think the art speaks for itself; they needn’t stand between the artist and the reader like some clingy real estate broker. Except when an editor kicks off a spring issue with an obscure poem or an essay on bee habits, I don’t know about other subscribers, but my seating is sometimes lost within the first few pages, and often I never really manage to get back in the saddle until I arrive in the book review section. I, for one, would like to have my hand held for a moment, at least at the outset, to see where the editor is leading me.

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