When you took over the magazine for the 2002 issue, what were your main concerns? What was the editorial process like for you?
I had two goals when I edited the Roanoke Review for the year of 2002. The first was to involve as many students as possible in all aspects of the Review—to use the Review as a teaching tool. And the second was to put up the first ever Roanoke Review website.
A student, English major Jim Goodwin, designed Roanoke Review's first website, and an art major with a creative writing concentration, Maeve O'Regan, was responsible for the Review's cover art and for helping with art and images for the website. Kelsey Quillen, a wonderful student poet, was our managing editor and helped research the history of the Review—and we had a team of dynamic student readers/editors; we met weekly and, in addition to reading the general entries and the poetry contest entries, we read articles about editing and we reviewed a number of contemporary journals. All of us were impressed by how far and wide were the writers who submitted to us—writers as near as Buchanan and as far as Switzerland.
At that time journals and reviews did not have the software for people to upload creative writing submissions so my goal was that the website inform people about Roanoke Review's history and its connection to our history of Visiting Writers at Roanoke. Furthermore, the goal of the website would be to celebrate what Roanoke Review had already achieved and to help spread the word about our presence. In the course of researching the Roanoke Review's history we found that Pulitzer Prize winner Henry Taylor had founded the magazine and served as editor, and we found that a host of well-known writers had published in the Roanoke Review.
Jim Goodwin designed a terrific website that told the story of the Roanoke Review, gave sample poems and short fictions for people to read, and listed some of the star writers who had visited Roanoke College, like Yusef Komunyakaa, Tim O'Brien, Linda Hogan, Sharon Olds, Charles Wright, Gregory Orr, and Edward Said, among others.
One of the highlights of our year was to read the poems Maggie Smith submitted to us and to be one of the early publishers of such a fierce and luminous talent.
BIO HERE: “Melanie Almeder is a John P. Fiswick Professor…at Roanoke College…”