The Portrait of New England Volume 2 is the first issue back from the publication’s hiatus, which NewPages.com covered in this interview with its new editor, Matthew Johnson, and founding editors Brett Murphy Hunt and Jon Bishop. Portrait of New England is a regional-based online literary magazine that published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction from writers with ties to New England – which can include being a current or former resident or attending schooling in the region. NewPages.com is happy to welcome the publication back with contributions from Andrew Yim, Donna Mitchell, Eric D. Lehman, Emily Fabbricotti, Emily Ehrhart, Benjamin Thomas, Ann Taylor, Alexander B. Joy, Ed Ahern, Charlotte Friedman, Cortney Davis, Kathryn Sadakierski, Joanne Corey, Melissa D. Burrage, John Grey, Patricia Peterson, Katherine Gotthardt, Katherine Gotthardt, Gayle Lauradunn, Frank William Finney, Angela Acosta, and Natalie Schriefer. Submissions for the next issue are open from March 1-May 31, 2023.
I recently heard from Matthew Johnson, managing editor of Portrait of New England online literary journal, that the publication was coming back from hiatus. Truth be told: we see a lot of magazines go on “hiatus” never to be heard from again, so I took this opportunity to talk with Matthew and his colleagues about what happened and how they bounced back. Portrait of New England publishes poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction from writers who are residents, former residents, or have connections (e.g., attended college in the region) to New England.
Origin Story and Hiatus
Matthew: “The original team for Portrait of New England was Brett Murphy Hunt, Jon Bishop, and Smrithi Eswar, who are all based in Massachusetts. They published the first issue of the magazine in 2019, of which I was originally a part of, as they accepted two of my poems.”
I am originally from New Rochelle, NY, but spent the majority of my childhood in Stratford, Connecticut, of which I have fond memories. I moved down to North Carolina in high school, and outside of a year stint in upstate New York as a sports journalist and editor after my undergrad, I’ve been based in North Carolina for close to 13 years now. Though I have not lived in New England for many years, I’ve visited Connecticut since moving to North Carolina, and it has always been a special place for me.”
Brett: “Basically, the idea of a literary magazine is something we fully support, but it’s incredibly labor-intensive! The amount of hours spent setting everything up compounded with the reading and vetting of submissions, and I think it was hard to think about the next issue. I personally own two businesses and teach at two universities, so my day-to-day is already task-saturated. Plus, I think we were incredibly proud of the first one, so trying to top that felt impossible! Nevertheless, we kept our website active because we definitely had the idea to continue SOMEDAY.”
Jon: “I second everything Brett said! This was a passion project, but it was one that was becoming a full-time thing, and because of our schedules, we found it hard to think about what was next. We sort of put everything into issue one.”