Summer/Fall 1997 • Vol. XIX No. 3/4 Editor's Notes |

Editor’s Notes

One of the questions most often asked of an editor—entirely reasonable, all but unanswerable—is to name what, precisely, one looks for in reading through submissions to a magazine. (In KR's case we receive something on the order of five thousand unsolicited manuscripts in a seven-month period.) How do we choose one poem or story among countless other worthy hopefuls? Answer Number One: I know it when I see it. What works for identifying pornography according to the famous judicial aphorism serves just as handily for tapping successful art. Great writing surprises the reader, takes unexpected twists, defies generic constraints even while working within and against them. Think of the great sonnets. No simple—or even complex—definition or anticipation suffices. Answer Number Two (and this rationalization is intended to preserve the sanity and balance of those who must choose): Gems will be missed. Full stop. I have no doubt that day in and day out my judgment fails. In

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Photo of David Lynn
David H. Lynn is the editor emeritus of The Kenyon Review, a professor of English, and special assistant to the president of the college. He was the editor of the Review from 1994 to 2020. As an author, he received a 2016 O. Henry Award for "Divergence." His latest collection, Children of God: New & Selected Stories, was published in 2019 by Braddock Avenue Books.

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Editor’s Notes

By David H. Lynn

One of the questions most often asked of an editor—entirely reasonable, all but unanswerable—is to name what, precisely, one looks for in reading through submissions to a magazine. (In KR's […]

Editor’s Notes

By David H. Lynn

One of the questions most often asked of an editor—entirely reasonable, all but unanswerable—is to name what, precisely, one looks for in reading through submissions to a magazine. (In KR's […]

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