Monday, November 26, 2007

Missouri Review Celebrates 30 Years

Columbia Business Times

Literary Landmark
The Missouri Review celebrates three decades in publishing
by Steve Weinberg

Posted Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thirty years ago, a few University of Missouri-Columbia English professors made a brazen decision. They would start a literary review featuring original fiction, poetry and essays penned by some of the most distinguished authors in the world as well as a selection of talented but little-known writers.

The first issue appeared in spring 1978 with the name The Missouri Review. It included a poem by Joyce Carol Oates, already a winner of numerous literary prizes but not yet a household name. It featured original work by accomplished writers such as Robert Bly, Philip Levine, William Stafford, Gerald Stern and James Tate, setting a standard that would carry the publication over the next three decades.


Considering the typical fate of new periodicals — which see a failure rate exceeding 50 percent — founders Larry Levis and Marcia Southwick, a husband-and-wife pair of professors in the MU English Department, had little reason to be optimistic. But later in 1978, a second issue appeared, with another contribution from Oates and a story by Paul Bowles. Maybe, just maybe, The Missouri Review would gain a toehold in the world of quality literature. Other MU English professors enlisted as editors, including William Holtz, Timothy Materer, Thomas McAfee and a spirited but unknown novelist named Speer Morgan.

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