Launch Notes

Dear readers, fellow writers, fellow editors, fellow electronic-publishing-wranglers,

In April of 2013, Jeffrey Levine set me on the path of building and launching an electronic journal that could—as our mission statement says—extend and expand upon the vision and beauty coming from Tupelo Press.

Starting an electronic arts quarterly from scratch is no small or single task. It requires envisioning and articulating the mission, the relationship to the Press, and the ways in which these two wildly disparate kinds of publishing can support and engage each other while doing such independent work. It requires building a masthead of editors who have not only the literary and artistic sensibilities and skill necessary to fulfill the mission of the journal, but also the speed and reliability necessary for a quarterly publication cycle, and the tech skills required to handle an entirely-online framework. It requires finding, acquiring, and maintaining the right tools for the job of receiving many different kinds of submissions, tracking them, reading and evaluating them, coming to decisions about them, and communicating effectively and warmly with contributors—and doing these things on a three month turnaround schedule. It requires designing and building websites, discarding them, building new ones. It means building, working with, and supporting a large team of people who can bring expertise and many hours of talent and love and skill to these various pieces. Any one of these aspects can easily become a full time job: all of them must be designed in such a way that they are not, so that the work of the journal can be sustainable.

The response to Tupelo Quarterly has been almost unimaginably enthusiastic, so we have been building all of these bridges while we were already charging full-speed across them: we received well over four thousand poems, prose pieces, and artworks this summer—and truly, these submissions were extraordinary.

I want to thank everyone at Tupelo Press for making TQ possible, and for providing such concrete support along the way, particularly: Cassandra Cleghorn, Nonfiction Editor for Tupelo Press and Associate Editor at TQ, for thinking of me in the first place, and Jeffrey Levine, founding Publisher and Editor in Chief of Tupelo Press, for opening up this beautiful opportunity for all of us. Thanks to Jeffrey for putting this in my hands and telling me to run with it; then so steadily being there to make available the resources necessary for the journal to succeed. Huge thanks to the entire masthead of Tupelo Quarterly for their gorgeous talents, their many hours of sharing them, and their generous company along the way. Monster-gratitude to and appreciation for Rose Carlson, Administrative Director of Tupelo Press, for bringing such a rare and glorious combination of qualitative and quantitative brilliance to her daily work in making this thing possible. Thanks to David Rossitter, Tupelo’s “General Dogsbody and Webmaster,” for good-humored genius in code-slaying and dry wit in email. To Marie Gauthier, Tupelo’s Director of Sales & Marketing—who always knows just what to say, how to say it, and when—thanks for brightening the path. Thank you Kirsten Miles & Jim Schley, who have extended such warm support and enthusiasm. Three cheers for Kaylie Sweet, Tupelo’s former-intern-turned-Administrative Assistant, who has brought not only continual readiness to help with whatever needs doing, but also a lovely combination of fierce competence and great work ethic. Last but not least: thank you to Ryan Gunn, TQ’s intern for this fall, whose many talents have been such an incredible boon to us, and possibly also to you: any of you who are interested in electronic journal layout and working with complex formatting challenges, read this Q & A with Ryan about the problems and solutions we found. We got lucky, having him working with us during this startup and design phase. Very few people are equally strong in creativity and analytical skill, and even fewer can merge the two, then apply completely unflappable focus to any problem until it is elegantly solved.

This launch issue will be, we hope, a taste of what’s to come.

We may have some bugs to work out in our new site: please be patient with us if you encounter any.

And on behalf of all of us, I offer our deepest thanks to you for your support of this journal and your faith in the work.

Here’s to cultivating generous artistic community.
– Jessamyn Smyth