Front Porch, the literary journal published through Texas State’s MFA program, has just released its Spring 2011 issue. This issue is special to me, because it’s the last issue I’ve served as Nonfiction Editor. I don’t know Front Porch’s founders personally, but I do know they worked hard to establish Front Porch back in 2006, and it’s been a delightful experience keeping their baby strong. Working with the journal has definitely been one of the highlights of my MFA experience.
Some highlights from the issue:
In the Nonfiction section, we are running an excerpt from Joyce Carol Oates’ new memoir, A Widow’s Story. The excerpt comes from Chapter 32 of the book, and captures the intense sadness of the early days of widowhood. We are also publishing a provocative, intellectually engaging lyrical essay by Joanna Robinson, “What I Did Not Do at the Mosque This Time.” Another piece, “Water Ransom” by J.W. Young, is one of most humorous essays we’ve run during my time at Front Porch. By happy coincidence, after accepting Young’s piece, I learned that she got her MFA at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, one of the places I’ve been lucky to call home; she’s mentioned that Barry Hannah was her mentor, which helps explain why this piece’s humor is so damn superlative. And last, we are also publishing Marilyn Martin’s essay, “Driving to Waldorf,” which details her experience seeking the right education for her daughter and finding it in a surprising–and distant–place.
Also in the Spring 2011 issue, we are publishing two poems by Sherman Alexie.
During my three years working for Front Porch, first as a reader and later as an editor, it’s been a thrill to see the journal develop. We have been incredibly fortunate to publish some excellent works. Stand outs that come immediately to mind are Melissa Febos’ excerpt from Whip Smart, Hannah Health Johnson’s “Mothers of Winter,” and Corey Ginsberg’s “Memoirs of a Psychonaut.” The journal’s redesign in summer 2010, designed by Sameera Kapila and overseen by Front Porch‘s managing editor, Herpreet Singh, has given the journal’s exterior the oomph to match its content. The streamlining of the video content is one notable way the journal has moved forward. And, it’s been fun to see the journal recognized, as it was recently when the Huffington Post ran some words from former Front Porch book review editor (and my very own #1 fellow) Marc Watkins. I’m really confident that next year’s editorial staff are going to do an excellent job maintaining and improving Front Porch. They’re an awesome group of talented, hardworking people.
MFA-run literary journals are fragile animals. With so much revolving staff, it can be difficult to communicate from one generation of editors to the next. I wonder if other journals have methods for keeping the DNA of the journal intact? Front Porch is still relatively young, but it’s fascinating to see how much it has evolved in just a few years.