June 13-26, 2003
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From resources to rescues
Q: ‘Are we as diverse as we say we are?’
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New VQR editor will seek next generation of readers
Heritage Repertory Theatre presents five plays this summer
Fiber art by aboriginal women now on display
Rain delays work
Staige D. Blackford (right) will soon pass the editorship of VQR to Theodore H. Genoways.
Staige D. Blackford (right) will soon pass the editorship of VQR to Theodore H. Genoways.

New VQR editor will seek next generation of readers

By Matt Kelly

Theodore H. Genoways, the youngest editor to take over the 78-year-old Virginia Quarterly Review, wants to move the journal in a new direction.

“We want to appeal to a new generation,” he said. “VQR’s identity will be redefined under my editorship.”

Genoways, 31, becomes the eighth editor of the magazine on July 1, following Staige D. Blackford, who shepherded it for 28 years.

There will be immediate changes, giving the journal “a bit of a face-lift,” said Genoways, who wants to establish a new identity and new look, including more contemporary art. Genoways also proposes theme issues, with guest co-editors, and a VQR Web site. The changes are aimed at attracting new writers and readers for the journal, which was founded in 1925, and currently has 4,000 to 5,000 readers.

Genoways is familiar with U.Va., having earned a master’s of fine arts degree here in 1999. While here, he founded Meridian, another literary journal.

“I take a great deal of pleasure and pride at the success Meridian has had without me,” he said. “I think it has prospered and thrived. I hope there is more than enough room for both of us here.”

The search committee felt his vision would drive the magazine.

“We were impressed with the concreteness of his ideas to bring in a new generation of readers,” said Stephen B. Cushman, one of VQR’s board of advisory editors and a member of the search committee that selected Genoways. “He is fearless in going after the big name. He is respectful and conscientious, and he lands the big contributors.”

Cushman cited a special issue on Latino writers Genoways edited for another magazine as an example of his interest in promoting under-represented authors.

The VQR’s broad appeal will help him, Genoways believes. Unlike traditional literary magazines, the journal publishes history, politics, art, music and science along with poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction, giving him room to expand the bounds of literature.

“Some literary magazines define what is literary a bit too narrowly,” he said. “There are some people doing science writing that I consider to be of literary quality, but they never appear in literary magazines.”

A voracious and eclectic reader, Genoways said editing gives him a chance to see what writers are working on while they are completing a book or when a poet is experimenting with something new.

“The most exciting and vital part of literary editing is to be right there on the front lines. It is the most material to go through, but it also is where writers are doing their most daring work and you can discover new writers first.”

He wants poetry and fiction that is “well-crafted but not reduced to its craft.” He looks for what interests him, that says this is the right story for the magazine. He is looking for work “that has that indefinable quality that we find in great literature, that strange or wonderful moment that appeals to us or that we haven’t seen before.”

The journal’s Web site will be an extension, but not an expansion, of the print edition. It will include more information about writers in the magazine, links to their previous work in VQR and possible links to other sites, to build a community of readers and writers. He also wants to post content from at least the last 25 years of VQR “so the really rich history of VQR can be on full display,” he said.

Genoways said he is “mindful of the journal’s storied past. I have to look at it as a great asset. But the best journals continue to change and respond to new generations of writers. The best I can do is to make this the best VQR for my generation of writers and for the generations that follow and hope people look back and say it was worthy of previous generations.”

Born in Texas, Genoways was raised in Pittsburgh, and moved to Nebraska while in high school. He received his bachelor of arts degree in English from Nebraska Wesleyan in 1994 and his master’s degree in English from Texas Tech University, 1996. He was attracted to U.Va. by the strength of the poetry program, specifically Rita Dove, Gregory S. Orr and Charles Wright. As a poet, Genoways said poetry may have more of a presence in the magazine.

He has been working on his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. Genoways was married to Mary Anne Andrei while a student at U.Va. They are both glad to be back.

“I could not be happier,” Genoways said. “This is exactly the job I always wanted, in exactly the place I had always hoped to be able to do it.”


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