Monday, July 26, 2010
Paris Review Purging
This site provides a great account of the injustices that have recently been strung around the new editors of The Paris Review after they "de-accepted" much of the forthcoming poetry section. Now, I've never attempted to submit to The Paris Review due to its level of pomp and regard, and my exact lack of such things. However, it seems inevitable that any poet who dares enter into the "accomplished poet" bracket from the lesser "up and coming poet" bracket will submit to The Paris Review. Hell, were I to dare the fates and enter into the "up and coming poet" bracket from my current "fresh out of the MFA-world/young grasshopper poet" bracket, The Paris Review would be first on my list, and I'd only have my fingers crossed for the more amicable boilerplate rejection note. If then my fate-tempting submission were returned with the stamp of acceptance, I would probably be beaming out of gratitude for years. Seriously, years. To call The Paris Review the creme de la creme of literary journals does not suggest enough what honor would be felt to be accepted into that league of writers of whom even non-readers of poetry and fiction can at least recognize names.
A few months ago, I would have told you that being accepted to such a storied journal is probably one of the most unique feelings one can have to a literary journal. Now I'm pretty sure the most unique feeling one can have towards such a reputable journal is being accepted and then de-accepted a year later. The level of mistrust and even betrayal I would harbor in my sinking heart would be unreal. In fact, the lack of respect these editors have for—I'm going to go on a sturdy limb here—talented writers boils my blood almost enough to not want to submit work there under this editorship. This, though, doesn't mean anything to anybody that isn't me.
Which brings me to my point: this is not going to hurt The Paris Review, despicable as the act of rescinding may be. They will continue to ride on their top-tiered reputation and this unsavory exposure will most likely fade. Unless The Paris Review, under Lorin Stein's editorial eye, begins to considerably fall down some notches in prestige and innovation. Even then though, the elite name will keep the journal afloat for some time before the readership is seriously injured as a result. It may even create an even larger readership with the recent controversy. Chances are, the writers who have been victim to the superseding will be more than just fine.