A Place For Good Work

by Elizabeth Lutyens, Editor in Chief

In January of this year, someone gave me the Time magazine with Lev Grossman’s article about publishing in the 21st century: that it is “in distress,” that although it “isn’t dying … it is evolving,” and that this evolution, at least for the published novel, will mean something that is “cheaper, wilder, trashier, more democratic and more deliriously fertile than ever.”

There was such a mix of good news and bad news in that piece that I picked up the current issue of Poets & Writers to cleanse my palate. And there, in the back section were the usual listings of literary prizes, fellowships, and calls for submissions. How comforting. Here were hundreds of journals and reviews and presses, and I wondered, perhaps perversely or perhaps in defiance of doomsday predictions: Why not one more?

Elizabeth Lutyens

Elizabeth Lutyens

It suddenly seemed a good idea for the Great Smokies Writing Program to have a publication of its own, and to be 21st-century about it, we’d do it electronically. As Grossman pointed out, “We've gone from industrialized printing to electronic replication so cheap, fast and easy, it greases the skids of literary production to the point of frictionlessness.” Cheap, fast, and easy—we could handle that.

But why would we want to bother? Tommy Hays (see below) talks about “places for good work,” and everyone who writes is looking for that place. With much thanks to Tommy and to Elaine Fox and UNC Asheville, here it is. The Great Smokies Review offers students and faculty, past and present, of the Great Smokies Writing Program an opportunity to share their work, their expertise, and their writing experiences.

We reviewed each submission with an eye out for more than good writing. We hoped for energy, which Assistant Editor Judi Goldenberg, in her playful-but-dogged fashion, asked me to define. At a loss for words (for once), I thought back to the Time article, discarding “cheaper” and “trashier,” but embracing “more democratic and more deliriously fertile.” So here (see table of contents), from nuclear fission to elephant manure … we offer democracy, fertility, and energy.

We also offer the possibility that a publishing industry in distress encourages the rest of us to invent our own ways to thrive.

To learn more about Elizabeth, go to elizabethlutyenseditor.com.