A Message from the Incoming Editor-in-Chief

By Steven D. Howe

As an MFA affiliated magazine, the Blue Mesa Review editorial staff changes with the academic year. This change is part necessity, due to graduations and new writers joining the program, and part choice to encourage new perspectives and varying aesthetics in the production of the magazine. The tradition at Blue Mesa Review is the outgoing editorial staff selects the incoming editors, and I count as one of my highest honors to have been chosen by my peers to be Editor-in-Chief for the upcoming academic year.

What I hope to bring to the magazine is a compulsion for new and interesting perspectives. It can be argued there are only a handful of things to write about; relationships between one another, relationships between intersecting cultures, the relationship with ourselves as we navigate the tragic and fascinating in our lives. Of course, this is incomplete, but as readers, when picking up an essay, poem, or short story, how often have you felt like you’ve read this story before? With the thousands upon thousands of submissions being presented across the literary magazine spectrum, it’s expected that you’d find multiple versions of the same story. But Blue Mesa Review is not looking for the expected. If you want to write about a common theme, we want to see an uncommon approach. Are you giving the readers a perspective that is underrepresented in the canon? Are we surprised by your choice of language and structure? Are you teaching us anything new? While our stories are often similar, we want you to feel free to break the conventions of your genre.

I feel we have an obligation to our readers to be a boutique in a big box world, and the task is difficult. Literary magazines play a role in curating the culture. We help decide what the world sees, what trends are supported or dismissed, and what voices are heard, and we take that job very seriously. To do this, and do it well, it takes a team of dedicated people willing to volunteer hundreds of hours from lives with precious little time to spare, but they do it for the love of the craft. Joining me in the curation of Issues 36 and 37 will be a wonderful team of talented and generous writers.

• Our new fiction editor is Tatiana Duvanova, a brilliant scholar and writer who will bring an international eye to the magazine.
• Nonfiction is led by Hayley Peterson. Hayley is unafraid of taking on challenging subject matter that breaks conventional boundaries.
• Our poetry editor, Ruben Rodriquez, is well published in the craft and is our connection to the what is most compelling and fresh in modern poetry.

Each of these editors will share their feelings on craft and what moves them within their genre in blog posts throughout the summer, so watch this space.

Helping in the day to day operation of the magazine is Lydia Wassan, who will assume the role of Managing Editor. She will also coordinate the Works In Progress reading series and the BMR blog. Aside from being a gifted essayist, Lydia has a wealth of international work and academic experience that will be invaluable in maintaining a professional culture within the magazine.

Blue Mesa Review has always been fortunate to have accomplished and exceptional faculty advisement to round out our team. Recent advisors include, Justin St. Germain, Emily Rapp Black, Marisa P. Clark, Jack Trujillo, and most recently, Jose Orduña. For the upcoming academic year, the trend of excellence continues. We are thrilled and proud to have as our advisor, Mark Sundeen, who was recently named the Russo Chair of the Creative Writing Program at the University of New Mexico.

Of course, none of what we do is possible without the staff readers who will be named from the incoming class of graduate and undergraduate students at UNM.

With deep gratitude to our past editorial board of Aaron Reader, Jason Thayer, Crystal Zanders, and David O’Connor, the current board thanks you for the trust you’ve placed in us and we are eager to represent the great tradition of Blue Mesa Review in the coming year.

Steve Howe