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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 1, 2007 | Vol. 37 No. 5
A Literary Journal is Reborn

Quarterly 'Hopkins Review' will launch this month

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Dormant for more than five decades, The Hopkins Review makes a triumphant return to the literary landscape this fall.

The original Hopkins Review was launched in 1947 by the Writing Seminars, then called the Department of Writing, Speech and Drama. The literary magazine back then was a thin paperback volume that sold for 25 cents a copy. Acclaimed novelist and short-story writer John Barth, a Writing Seminars alumnus and later a JHU faculty member, published his first story in its pages, which also included the works of such celebrated poets as Richard Wilbur and E.E. Cummings.

The magazine eventually languished due to a lack of funds and a dwindling number of full-time faculty in the department. It folded in 1953.

The resurrected journal, subtitled "New Series," will be a joint venture of the Writing Seminars and the Johns Hopkins University Press. Its inaugural issue, to be released this month, also marks the 60th anniversary of the Writing Seminars, one of the most prestigious creative writing programs in the country.

To celebrate the anniversary and relaunch, an invitation-only ceremony, featuring remarks and readings by magazine contributors and Writing Seminars faculty, will be held on Oct. 2 in Homewood's Hodson Hall. The event is co-sponsored by the Sheridan Libraries, the Johns Hopkins University Press and the Writing Seminars.

The 190-page quarterly literary magazine will publish fiction; poetry; memoirs; essays on literature, drama, film, the visual arts, music and dance; and reviews of books in all these areas, as well as reviews of performances and exhibits.

The magazine's editorial board will be senior faculty of the Writing Seminars. Its distinguished list of contributing editors includes Nobel Prize-winner J.M Coetzee, novelist James Salter, poet John Hollander and critic Harold Bloom.

John T. Irwin, editor of the magazine and Decker Professor in the Humanities, said he wants The Hopkins Review to joins the ranks of other noted literary journals, such as The Yale Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review and The Southern Review.

"It's going to have the very best writers in it," Irwin said. "We want it to be an expression of Hopkins' commitment to the humanities and to the highest standards of writing."

Irwin, who edited The Georgia Review for three years in the 1970s, said that when he returned to Johns Hopkins in 1977 to chair the Writing Seminars, he realized that something was missing.

"At that time, I thought that there were two things a top-ranked writing program needed: a book publishing series and a literary quarterly," he said. "We established the book publishing series in 1979, but the literary quarterly was put on hold for a number of reasons. Now, it's finally here, and what better way to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Writing Seminars then to bring back the magazine."

Irwin said that many people contributed to getting the magazine off the ground, including Writing Seminars faculty, those at the Johns Hopkins University Press and a small group of dedicated alumni who provided financial support.

The first issue, Winter 2008, contains fiction by Max Apple, Donald Barthelme, Stephen Dixon and Erin McGraw; poems by Edward Hirsch, John Hollander, Charles Martin, Mary Jo Salter and Richard Wilbur; and essays by John Barth, Karol Berger, Millard Kaufman and Frank Kermode.

The Spring 2008 issue will include work by Barth, Michael Blumenthal, Claudia Emerson, Richard Howard, Andrew Hudgins, John Dixon Hunt, Brad Leithauser, Padgett Powell, Wyatt Prunty, David Slavitt, David Wyatt and others.

Irwin said that he and the rest of the magazine's editorial staff expect the publication, because of its top-notch writing, to appeal to readers nationwide and to establish its reputation as one of the top literary and arts magazines in the country.

The journal will be available by subscription for $25 annually or $8 an issue through the Johns Hopkins University Press. To order, go to or call 800-548-1784.


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