It was ten years ago when a prominent source in the literary world approached me with a comment about The Summerset Review.
"It's nice," he said, "and you are doing a good job, but you can't call yourself a literary magazine if you are not going to include poetry."
I started with the classic ifs, ands, and buts, but he would not hear it. He waved his hands in the air violently, disregarding my attempts at excuses. Up to that point, the magazine was only publishing prose.
"I know just the person you need," he said. "There's an award-winning poet sitting right at the other side of this table." We were having dinner in a restaurant outside Washington D.C. The man invited a few of his colleagues. We were discussing literary journals, among other things.
This is how it began, when one Meredith Davies Hadaway, during the salad course of the meal, said she'd be glad to help.
"You need her, Joseph," the man said. "Summerset needs her. The literary community needs her."
Now, ten years later, you will see by browsing the journal's archives that Summerset never failed to include wonderful poetry in each issue. Works have gone on to win some prestiguous awards, including the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net anthologies. This was the direct result of Meredith's passion and diligence. In addition to the review of poetry, she brought college student interns into the mix, and several of them won distinguished scholarships, which may have, in part, been due to their experience here. I'm sure all of them benefited greatly under her leadership.
Meredith will be stepping down after the publishing of this issue, and I cannot say enough to fully quantify what she has done, nor explain my thanks and appreciation. The work here at Summerset is completely voluntary and unpaid, and I suppose her dedication to all that is literary is best demonstrated by the fact that here she was, for ten years, doing what she loves: churning through thousands of submissions to promote the best select few for publication.
I'm sure it is difficult for some to leave a long-time "job." Co-workers might send off a colleague and say, "Now there was one faithful and committed soul; he/she will be greatly missed." Let's not forget that when this happens in the manufacturing plant or insurance office or deli or department store, the person leaving was at least receiving some compensation for their efforts over the years, namely a wage. Here there was no wage. This work was done wholly for a love of the literary word, a dedication that is clearly nothing short of exceptional.
Taking Meredith's place, starting with the Fall issue, will be the accomplished poet Erin Murphy. Erin's work has appeared in several issues of this journal over the years, and one poem of hers here won a Best of the Net award. She has published many books, including Assisted Living—winner of the 2016 Brick Road Poetry Prize. She is professor of English at Penn State University, Altoona College.
I want to welcome Erin aboard, and let's all wish Meredith good luck in everything she does post-Summerset. In honor of her time and dedication, she will continue to appear in the masthead as Poetry Editor Emerita. Thank you, Meredith. I don't know what I would have done, and where this magazine would be, without you. — JL
Theme graphics this issue - "Stacked"
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