Dispatches | April 13, 2012

How would you feel if someone called you the Devil? Delighted? Me too! Which means you would fit right in at our Editors’ Prize Weekend.

Last weekend was when we brought in our three Editors’ Prize winners to spend time with our staff, eat a ton of food, and have a general blast with David Kirby, Yuko Sakata, and Peter Selgin. When this weekend occurs is never a definitive date on the calendar. We look at dates between February and April. We think about AWP and Spring Break. We ask our three writers—who often aren’t notified until late December, sometimes early January, that they won—when they can make it in. We check for flights, hotel accommodations, all that good stuff. Depending on your perspective, either this is pretty easy (if, say, you’re an administrator of a summer camp) or pretty hard. No matter what, we find a way to make it work.

I’d never met them. I was familiar with David’s work—his poetry appeared in River Styx during my time as the magazine’s managing editor—and knew Peter Selgin’s name, but I had no personal connection with either man. “Unintended” was Yuko’s first published story, the true definition of an emerging writer. I wouldn’t say I was worried about meeting them (I can count on one hand the number of writers I’ve met that I have truly disliked)(no, I will not say who. C’mon, now!) but bringing writers in, writers whose work we are publishing and deeply admire, does feel a bit like a blind date.

They were wonderful. Smart, charming, funny, generous: these three are people you would like to spend two hours talking to, the kind of conversation that when you look at your watch you have no idea how much time has passed. The readings were terrific, mirroring the voice we imagined each author had (Kevin McFillen, our audio editor, and I briefly talked about this; he was delighted that the voice talent we have performing “Unintended” and “The Kuhreihen Melody” fit just right), a nice sneak preview of our spring issue which will be out … well, soon. Real soon!

Did I really get called the Devil? Absolutely! I was standing in the back of the room during the reading—I generally prefer to be in the back; I like seeing and feeling how the audience responds to the writer’s reading—and wore a black suit, beer bottle in hand, serenely intense. I was in the shadows. And David noted that the Devil would, in fact, look a bit like I did. Which, of course, I loved. Threw my arms up. Nodded. Everyone laughed. Pretty rare that you can get called Satan and be happy about it. But, hey, that’s what happens on Editors’ Prize weekend. We’re okay with that.

I can’t say thank you enough to Yuko, David, and Peter. They are absolutely wonderful people, and I hope that I’ll know all of them, read their work, and be friends with them for a very long time.

Read more about David here and Peter here, and get yourself amped up for our spring issue. We are a little bit behind, with a litany of reasons (InDesign problems, new printing bid, font colors of our art feature, etc.) that we’ve got all sorted out. I’m biased, but the Editors’ Prize issue, the spring issue, is always my favorite. I hope you’ll feel the same way.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye

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