editorial #1

Hirschworth 1
 
THE PUBLISHER’S CONUNDRUM 
 
As Hirschworth enters its second month, and begins its second issue in a way, I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to all of our readers and contributors who have made this magazine’s start a success: so far, we have published 30 poems, 7 essays, 7 short stories, and the first chapter of our serialization of Candice Cousins’s novel Bigger than a Cadillac [1].
          In the month ahead, we will be publishing more new writing from a greater number of writers, providing you with more varied content that will, in my opinion, enrich the experience of reading this magazine. Hirschworth was founded in part to be a venue where people could access myriad voices, styles, ideas, and approaches to creative and critical writing and to art. In this way, Hirschworth stands for being an anti-arbiter of taste. We are not trying to push any particular aesthetic or politic on you.
           Yet, we do have certain preferences for subject matter (the sea, food, fowl cooked or living, etc.). And we cannot publish everything that comes our way. For example, the content of some submissions does not make sense to us; some submissions, to us, are overly indulgent with wordplay; some are profane in a way that, no matter how well-intentioned from an artistic standpoint, come off only as mean to us. To publish these would be to shirk our responsibility to you, our readership, and would be an easy excuse for shirking for our own responsibilities as editors. This leaves us in the paradoxical state, as one of my colleagues said, of being a magazine that is pretentiously unpretentious, that acts necessarily as an arbiter of taste even as it rages against that role.
          That is all to say, we certainly do not see ourselves as above criticism. 
          Keeping the the above in mind as a glaring qualifier, we are, from time to time, going to set about critiquing those established publications that unabashedly act as arbiters of taste, foremost of which is The New Yorker. We love The New Yorker. It and Harper’s are the only major, broadly read magazines that regularly publish fiction and poetry, that regularly make these art forms available to a general, not strictly literary readership. Secondly, we often find ourselves bewildered and annoyed by The New Yorker because of the content and quality of the poems and stories contained therein (though there are gems to be found, too) [2]. In my opinion, it is because The New Yorker acts as the de facto ambassador of what contemporary fiction and poetry are to much of the public that it should be evaluated (both positively and negatively) on its performance. In the coming weeks, we will be examining The New Yorker more closely on an issue-by-issue basis. We hope that you will weigh in with your own thoughts.
           Now, I would like to kick off this second issue of Hirschworth with a poem from Kirstin O’Connor entitled “With Apologies to Paul Muldoon” [3]. It is not a poem for everyone, but it is fitting here, and it is perhaps a poem for you. As ever, and as much as we are able, we leave it to you to discuss the merits and demerits of our content.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Thomas McCafferty
Editor in Chief
 
 
 

[1] Sometimes a piece is very much in a gray area between a short story, a poem, or an essay, and while we do pick labels for each one, these labels are meant more to be organizational tools than decrees. I remember a friend of mine named Slim saying his favorite book of poems was Finnegan’s Wake, which seems perfectly valid despite its status as a novel.
 
[2] We are focusing on The New Yorker at the moment more than Harper’s because of the discrepancy in circulation (as according Wikipedia). The New Yorker boasts a total circ of over 1,040,000; Harper’s has a total circ of about 187, 000.
 
[3] Mr. Muldoon is, of course, Poetry Editor of The New Yorker. He is also one of the finest poets alive in our humble opinion. 
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