Flipping through the Spring 2008 issue of Florida Review, I came across a few items of note. I see Billy Collins has two poems in this issue. He’d previously sent his work to FR and been published, and it raised a question about how lit mags deal with “really famous writers” sending in their work. Do they get picked because they’re famous and will help to promote/sell the magazine? Or do they get picked on the merit of their work? In which case, they’d be as likely to not get picked, right? I’ve had a lot of conversations with a lot of editors about this situation, and even though I hear them say it’s about the merit of the work, there’s always a footnote of commentary about how it helps the magazine. That is the business end of the literature, though. There is also a different level of scrutiny on the authors – to be well known and published raises this question, sort of like doping in sports – to achieve is to be suspect. Even famous poets get rejected. Sounds like a good title for something. I’m not saying anything about the quality of Collins’ work in this publication, just commenting on the situation.
I’m also pleased to see FR include a couple comics, one by Jeffery Brown and one by Rachel and Beverly Luria. It’s a lot to dedicate as many pages to a comic as they need to tell their story, but a trend I hope to see more of in other lit mags.
And lastly, just a nod to Lisa K. Buchanan, a once-upon-a-time reviewer for NewPages. She’s got a nonfiction piece in here, “Tips for the Busy Conversationalist.” It’s an intense exploration that plays well with the self-help style. Nod.