A friendly word of warning before we get into the main event...

If you ever decide to take a photo of a fifty-watt guitar amplifier with all the knobs on ten, please remember to turn the knobs back down when you are done. And yes, you can probably guess why we are issuing this advisory.

With that being said...

It was ten short years ago when The Summerset Review first hit the proverbial street. Back then it was co-editor Leigh and me, asking each other, Could we do it? Will it last? Do we have enough time and energy to put issues out quarterly? Will we get enough submissions? Will the submissions be of sufficient quality? Will people read us? Will it be worth it?

The answer to all of these questions is a resounding Yes. Did we do it? If you look at our Previous Issues page, you will see all issues since 2002 are accessible and free to read cover-to-cover, without advertisements or strings of any sort. Every one was released on time, with sweat, with passion, and with love.

Did we get enough unsolicited submissions? Well, we now get over five a day. The quality? Read and find out for yourself. Our readership? We estimate each page of literary content in the current issue gets about twenty-five page-views a day. Was the effort worth it? Most definitely.

Yet with this, the road and journey was not easy. Our biggest joy is when a story or poem published here makes a lasting impression on a reader, and though we've come to know this has happened from time to time, I feel new literary work, both published here and at other places, is not getting the attention it deserves.

At one point during our ten years, The Summerset Review was asked to talk about this very subject at a national literary conference. Specifically, the topic was Reading in America, addressing questions raised as a result of several articles published by the National Endowment for the Arts. These papers cited a decline in reading by our younger generations. The NEA was advocating a program called The Big Read, where a very small group of books was sanctioned and recommended for key reading assignments in schools. I was arguing that, though such a program was well-intentioned, we should not require young readers to read a specific book, but offer broad choices. Additionally, I asked schools to levy significant penalties for students not doing the reading assignments, up to and including retention in the grade.

The session seemed to go well, but later in the evening a high school English teacher approached me. He said the flaw with administering penalties for lack of reading and threatening to retain students in a grade is that the school system must work like a queue and get the students through, to make room for the next batch. If it means giving passing grades for work not satisfactorily completed, so be it. This is particularly true with full-length book reading assignments, where the English teacher said typically the school curriculum does not have room in it to allow faculty and students to invest in this kind of thing.

Not enough room for something as important as this?

The NEA papers proceed to say those students who read a considerable amount typically go on to lead higher quality lives. I have no doubt this is true.

How do you and I fix this?

At The Summerset Review, we're continuing to put out compelling contemporary literature, free for anyone to read and enjoy. You don't even have to log in. Read it on your computer, or on your iPad, or even on your smart phone. Or download the PDF file and read it later on any device, including the Kindle and eReaders. We've also started a Twitter page so readers and fans can stay connected and get a few behind-the-scenes glimpses of our journal.

So, you see, we're trying! Now you do your part: Pass us along to friends, colleagues, students and anyone else. Get the word out.

It's been a great ten years and we hope for another ten. I want to thank all you readers and writers out there who spent time in our pages. And many thanks to our contributors over these years who kept us thriving with beautiful work. Drop us a line and let us know how we are doing; we'd love to hear from you: editor(at)summersetreview.org.

J Levens

Ten years ago, I was the copy editor for the section of an e-zine that Joe edited when he approached me about a literary passion project, The Summerset Review. He wondered if I would like to help with the online journal that he was launching. Although I immediately said Yes! to my computer monitor, I did attempt to compose a more professional reply with at least a full sentence or two. Joe didn't know that TSR was exactly the kind of publication I had been looking to join, and now I had the chance to be a part of one from its inception. I was honored to be asked, and eager to pitch in however needed.

Forty issues and two print collections later, working on TSR is still an honor. When I go to the Previous Issues page hunting for something from a past issue, I often lose track of time revisiting journeys taken through words, photos, and art. TSR has grown so much, and it's due to Joe's clear vision, hard work, and dedication. It is true that I've never actually met our fearless leader in person, as we live in different areas of the United States and our paths have not yet crossed. I've always considered our virtual office to be kind of like a contemporary 84, Charing Cross Road, although instead of talking politics, Joe and I trade links to bands on YouTube when not discussing editing. I'll keep this simple: Thank you, Joe.

I also want to praise our entire stellar staff, each freely giving so much time and care to every word published. And I'm so grateful for our readers because we wouldn't be here a decade later without them. Finally, thanks to our talented contributors for taking us on journeys across the globe as well as those that explore the human spirit. I can't wait to see where we go next.

A Leigh Owen

Theme graphics this issue - "10"
Copyright © The Summerset Review, Inc. 2012.