Editor's Introduction

S. Tremaine Nelson

E and I had only been living in New York City a few weeks, back in 2007, when I received an email from the editor of Northwest Review, John Witte, who wrote me three short words: “This one, yes.” I had been submitting my short stories to Northwest Review for more than ten years, until, at last, John and his readers finally accepted one.

It was my first fiction publication. I was, at the time, 26 years old. I was, at the time, more in need of encouragement as a writer than I had ever been.

We are rebuilding this literary magazine so that we, as a team of voluntary editors, can send that same email, in its own way and in its own voice, to the next generation of writers who need their own encouragement more than ever, the way that I did, back then–the way that all of us have, at some point in our careers, needed somebody to say: you can do it.

I believe the artist’s need for recognition is more deeply connected to a desire for human empathy than an expression of hubris. Recognition of vision and effort is a way that an artist or writer can connect with their viewer or reader; art is, I have come to believe, a form of communication where & when a message is more complex and inaccessible, perhaps, than the writer fully realizes, even as the writer believes wholeheartedly in the urgency of its meaning. You can, after all, know deep within your bones that you have something important to say, even if you’re not sure what it is, or how to say, or who needs to hear it the most.

I think, too, of the great bodies of literature that were never written because the writer never had that pivotal moment of hope extended: this one, yes. I think literary journals can function as a place where risks are rewarded; literary journals are a laboratory where certain forms and ideas thrive and others die; it is safe here to fail and fail again; we can take a chance on untested writers because we are beholden to no one except ourselves–and to you, Reader.

I say: send us your heart.

I say: keep writing.

We are now a full year into our new Northwest Review. I don’t know yet who among our contributors needed that nudge the most. Maybe none of them. Maybe they–and you–are strong in your vision and steady in your faith. But maybe one of you needs that email sent by Brian, Emma, Nicky, Mike, Alyssa, Kelsey, or me… saying: this one, yes.

We are here to give you that nudge. We are here to say: keep going.

–STN

Educated in Tennessee, married young in Alabama, S. Tremaine Nelson is a former poetry reader at The Paris Review and an alumnus of the fiction department of The New Yorker. He is a fourth-generation Oregonian living in Portland, where he was born and raised. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the Columbia University MFA program.