Carried Forth By a Team
Most of my work on the lead story in this issue’s special section—the heavy lifting, one might say—was done while I was recuperating from back surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that nonetheless knocked me off my regular schedule for a couple of weeks. Much of my correspondence with the twenty principal players in “The Business of Relationships: How Authors, Agents, Editors, Booksellers, and Publicists Work Together to Reach Readers” (53) took place while I was out of the office and working from home. The irony was not lost on me that I was building and shaping a feature story meant to highlight the connections between a team of publishing professionals that rallies behind any successful book while separated from the team of publishing professionals behind this magazine. Of course I was still in contact with the talented group of individuals listed on the masthead two pages back, via e-mail, text, and even phone—much the same way an author stays connected with an agent, or an agent with an editor, or a publisher with a bookseller—but my relative isolation underscored the importance of these relationships. As the responses to my questions trickled in and the critical connections forged by debut authors Jordy Rosenberg, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Rachel Z. Arndt, Aja Gabel, and Ruth Joffre began to expand, I had real-time reminders of what I was trying to illustrate in the piece: “A work of art conceived and created in solitude is carried forth by a team, passing through many hands before it reaches the marketplace.” Each issue of this magazine works in a similar way.
The newest member of our team is writer, educator, and now contributing editor Clint Smith, who you may recall wrote the cover profile of poet Kevin Young for our November/December 2017 issue. Smith, a poet himself—the author of Counting Descent, released by Write Bloody Publishing in 2016—was the one who suggested I invite poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib to sit down with this issue’s cover subject, Terrance Hayes. Their conversation, and the resulting profile, “My Past and Future Assassin” (30), is a fascinating look at a brilliant poet obsessed with his project.
Whether you’re obsessed with a project of your own, or embarking on new work this summer, take the time to think about the relationships that have grown as a result of your writing. There’s a special one I’d like to acknowledge now: Thank you, dear readers.