New Orleans Review unveils its newest issue this week

By Ari Braverman

New Orleans Review will celebrate the release of its new issue with readings from the magazine and literary mingling beginning at 7 p.m. this Friday, September 13, at Maple Street Book Shop (7529 Maple St.).

This is the magazine’s second issue under new editor Mark Yakich, a poet and professor at Loyola. It includes contributions from LaShonda Katrice Barnett, Jane Wong and Harold Jaffe. I chatted with Yakich via email last week about the recent changes and his plans for NOR‘s future. (Disclaimer: I’m also NOR‘s assistant fiction editor).

Yakich took over editorship of NOR from Christopher Chambers in 2012, when Chambers gave up his long and influential tenure at the magazine to become head of Loyola’s English department. Chambers edited NOR from 2000 – 2012, publishing twenty-five issues in all. He steered the magazine through a physical redesign and kept it going in the years post-Katrina, while featuring work from emerging writers as well as established authors such as Bill Cotter, an excerpt of whose excellent New Orleans-based novel Fever Chart first appeared in NOR’s pages, and Motorman author David Ohle. During that time, the magazine also featured two pieces by Walker Percy (one previously unpublished), an interview with Don Delillo, and fiction by Rikki Ducornet.

Yakich has taken the journal’s redesign even further. NOR issue 38.2—Yakich’s first as editor—was a series of five chapbooks bundled and sold together. Each contributor’s work appeared in its own volume, physically discrete from the rest of the issue. 38.2 sold out within a month of publication, and Poets and Writers magazine covered it in the “News and Trends” section of its May/June issue.

“Chapbooks give authors a real, stand-alone-yet-part-of-a-journal, presence,” Yakich said. He also pointed out that the format allows NOR to publish longform work, which sets it apart from other journals. The current issue, 39.1, is a single, perfect-bound magazine, and 39.2 will have the same format, though Yakich hopes to publish the following issue as another series of chapbooks.

Yakich has also upped NOR’s online presence. After less than a year under his leadership, NOR unveiled a new website that features web-only work (including content from Room 220) as well as reprints from back issues. The website currently hosts pdfs of about 30 back issues, and there are plans to have the rest of the 45 year-old magazine’s issues online by 2015.

NOR’s website will also soon provide visual arts coverage in collaboration with local art journal Pelican Bomb and will include a “music section” featuring local, national, and international artists.

At this Friday’s release party, members of the current NOR editorial staff will be on hand to chat, and will read their favorite excerpts from the issue. The event is free and open to the public. Wine and cheese provided.