Dispatches | July 29, 2013
Ghosts, Handcuffs, and Martinis
This past Friday, we celebrated the release of our summer issue by combining literature, alcohol, and handcuffs. That’s just how we get down. Roughly 75 readers, friends, and supporters (there is some overlap in categories there) swung by The Vault, the speakeasy style bar in the basement of the Tiger Hotel, in order to swill a few drinks, snag the latest issue, and generally have a good time.
We can’t always throw a launch party. Mostly, this is due to timing. Our winter issue usually comes out right around New Year’s, and Columbia is fairly quiet at the beginning of January. We have two other regular events in the spring–the Murry’s Dinner and Fundraiser and our Editors’ Prize Reception–and the latter, in many ways, is kind of like a launch for our spring issue. In the past, we’ve had launch events for our fall issue but a busy academic school schedule and our Peden Prize celebration jams up our social calendar. Unless you’re Jay Gatsby, throw too many parties and the shine comes off.
For this launch, however, we had all kinds of good news. We offered drink specials on the Houdini Martini and some blueberry (or is that “boo-berry”?) and lemonade concoction that was might tasty. We had a magician who performed all kinds of slight-of-hand tricks to oohs, aahs, and applause. We passed out copies of the new issue. We took a bunch of photos of us all having a genuinely good time.
The summer is always an odd time for us. In many ways, it feels like our year really begins with the autumn semester, so our January 1st, our New Year’s Day, comes in August. Not only do we say goodbye to our summer interns, but in my case, I’m also saying goodbye to students that we’ve had for two, sometimes three, consecutive semesters. We also have the most staff turnover around this time, too. So we’re saying goodbye to friends that have been with for years, and that’s always a little bittersweet.
Kate McIntyre, our anthology editor, has been working on textBOX for the past two years. She’s been building content, mentoring our interns, reshaping the website, and making it a rich source of stories, poems, essays, author interviews, and audio content for use in the classroom and online readers. Before that, Kate has been a senior reader on manuscripts, giving us another set of fresh eyes and insightful opinions on the work we’re considering for publication. Kate’s been an integral part of our magazine for years, and we’re sorry to see her go, though, of course, we’re happy for her and her new gig: in the fall, she’ll be a visiting assistant professor at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.
Patrick Lane has been our web editor for almost seven years now. Our web presence has gone through an amazing transformation during this time, as Patrick has worked to keep our site lively, readable, and informative for our readers. It’s been a gargantuan task. For a magazine (any organization, really), the website is the first thing that people see now, both your longtime readers and your new ones, and so much of our success is due to all the work Patrick has done to nudge readers into all the diverse nooks and crannies of our website.
Austin Segrest is leaving TMR but remaining in Columbia. He has been poetry editor with us for two years. His work has been outstanding, giving us eight issues of work he’s selected after reading hundreds of poetry manuscripts and making wonderful selections for our popular Poem of the Week feature. He’s been terrific to work with over the last few years; even better, he’s a good friend, someone who has been a cherished addition to the Columbia community. He throws great parties, is a great drinking buddy, swims like a dolphin, swings a mean tennis racket, and can also write poems like this, and this, and this. Which is pretty amazing.
Maura Lammers started as an intern with us, then became an office assistant, which has been her role with us for the last year. She and I often talk first thing in the morning, particularly on Mondays, when both of us desperately need the coffee machine to hurry up and finish its percolating. Along with being one of the warmest, most generous people we have in the office, she has been one of our best staffers, too. One of the best young writers to come through MU in my four years, she’s an emerging writer who is just beginning to publish her work. Also, much to my delight, she invited me to be a mentor and join her at her honors graduation this spring, where we got to wear robes and live tweet the whole shebang. In a few weeks, she’s off to eastern Washington where she’ll be working in AmeriCorps for the next year.
Kyle Burton, like Maura, started off as an intern, and then became an editorial assistant with us, where he’s been working on developing and redefining our digital platform. He also has educated me on film and sports to the extent that I’m not watching either one quite the same way anymore. Even if he liked The Dark Knight Rises a lot more than I did. Kyle’s focus has shifted to screenwriting, and he’s working on breaking into the film business and becoming the next William Goldman. He’s a smart and passionate reader, and we’ve had a few whiskeys (only after business hours!) over the last few years. I’m really proud to call him my friend.
Claire McQuerry has been the contest editor for the past three years, which are also the three best years the Editors’ Prize contest has ever had. She’s also developed our Audio Competition from a floundering idea to an innovative, delightful, and successful outlet for some of the best audio performances on the web. Like Austin, she’s a fantastic poet–her debut collection Lacemakers came out on SIU Press–and a terrific mentor to our students. Her work has been outstanding on so many levels here at the magazine. She’s on her way to Washington (the state, not the capital) where she will be a visiting assistant professor at Gonzaga University.
Claire’s departure is a big one for me. Though she will be in town frequently over the course of the next year, it’s her first step (“leap”) out of Missouri, and she won’t truly be returning. She has been in Columbia as long as I have, and while I’m happy for her, her departure also saddens me deeply. She’s one of my close friends her in town, and while I’ve never written much about my personal life on this blog (and I’m not starting now), she’s been a remarkably supportive and great friend to me through some tumultuous events in my life. I’m going to miss her terribly.
We have some wonderful people joining our staff, and they have big shoes to fill. But Tanya McQueen, Chun Ye, and Mike Petrik are going to be terrific. And we’re full speed ahead here–our fall issue is already full and in production– to make the next issue, and the next year, absolutely wonderful.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye
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