Relaunch graphic for The Henniker Review, courtesy of Rebecca Curtis.

Undergraduate editors of The Henniker Review once gathered for meetings in the office on the 3rd floor of Simon, but now the communications regarding its production take place online. This is because editors on the journal live states apart, all of them now students from the low-residency MFA Program.

In January The Henniker Review announced it was now being housed in NEC’s MFA Program.

The journal also relaunched in the eighties, after being founded by NEC English Professor Don Melander in 1970. The Henniker Review was discontinued in 1972, and relaunched by undergraduate students the decade that followed. Melander, who had named the review, said, “I was happy they [the students at the time] asked my permission to use the name of The Henniker Review.” He and his colleagues had edited two editions from 1971-72 before the journal was discontinued due to lack of funding. The undergraduate students in the eighties received funding to revive the review from Student Senate. Then there was a second relaunch in 2005 after a brief period of inactivity in the early 2000’s. But today’s relaunch is significant because it’s the first time the MFA Program has been in charge of its production.

Faculty Advisors Professor Maura MacNeil and Professor Inez McDermott, and Production Consultant Professor Jay Bordage, first discussed The Henniker Review’s relocation in 2018.

MacNeil, a Professor of Creative Writing, said, “Moving the editorial board of the HR into the MFA program was prompted by the decision to move the HR towards being a regional, and eventually, nationally recognized literary publication as opposed to having it only as an in-house undergraduate magazine.”

Throughout the years when The Henniker Review was housed in the undergraduate program, it rarely published beyond its local community. MacNeil and Art Professors McDermott and Bordage had a vision for the journal that more closely resembled the original one Melander had back in 1970: to publish the works of writers from the wider world. From 1971-72 those from the local community were featured, but the majority of the work in the journal originated from outside of NH. Melander’s contacts at the writing program at Iowa and Syracuse University, where he earned his PhD and MA in American Literature, and through writer Charles Gaines, who taught at NEC at the time, had allowed him to access the work of the wider world.

When MacNeil and her fellow faculty advisors first discussed the idea of housing The Henniker Review in the MFA, the fact that MFA students have already formed connections was a motivator. The editors of The Henniker Review needed to have knowledge of the world of literary publications and have professional creative writers as contacts in order to attract quality submissions. MFA students have already formed the professional connections undergraduate students are just beginning to form: They’re friends with professional creative writers and maintain contact with fellow writers on social media. Faculty Advisors knew connections like these would attract submissions to the journal from well-recognized authors, and they wanted The Henniker Review to be a vehicle to “showcase the arts at NEC in a broader regional/national context.”

Director of the MFA Program Jennifer Militello, who teaches for the graduate program and the undergraduate program, was the faculty member who eventually ended up approaching NEC’s MFA students regarding the possibility of taking control of The Henniker Review.

During the 2018 summer residency—a two-week long period when students gather for workshops, readings, and lectures–Jacob Rivers, now Managing Editor of the review, said he was in the group of students Militello approached. Rivers who is Assistant to the Director at The Frost Place in Franconia, NH, stated: “David Ryan, one of the faculty members in the program [author and founder and fiction editor of Post Road], encouraged us to get involved in a journal too, so it was perfect timing all around. Most of the writers in our cohort expressed interest in taking on editorial roles. We kept in contact to brainstorm ideas, and when it came to revamping the website, I ended up taking on that responsibility. From there, I began to slowly mold into a managing editor position. I loved it—being able to help in the business side of the process as well as the creative. Maura MacNeil helped me get the website’s domain set-up, facilitate communication between the MFA program and interested undergraduate students, and pretty much everything else. She’s fantastic. Everyone involved has been so encouraging.”

Rivers, who has a BA in Latin American Studies from Suffolk University, had already had some exposure to two journals at Suffolk University, and realized that opportunities like these were sparse.

“One was Salamander, a nationally recognized journal for the arts, and the other was a student-led journal that published mostly internally,” he said. “At that time, I was looking at a potential career-path in publishing, but I wasn’t an English major, so I felt like an outsider when approaching them. I applied for an internship with Salamander and didn’t get it. So, when I found out that the MFA program was taking over The Henniker Review, I immediately jumped in.”

Even though The Henniker Review is now housed in the MFA, creative writing undergraduates will still have the opportunity to work with the journal as part of internships.

“As more of our undergraduates creative writing students are choosing to enter MFA programs after graduation (and the NEC MFA program is a destination for many of our students),” MacNeil said, “the merging of the MFA students into the HR creates a wonderful bridge between undergraduates and MFA students.”

She said this bridge allows undergraduate students exposure to someone who’s already been active in the literary sphere for some time.

Rivers, who teaches online at NEC as part of a Teaching Assistantship, edits the journal alongside MFA students: Fiction Editor Cole Phillips, Poetry Editors Chandler Veilleux, Reverie Koniecki, and Adam Vernon, and recent graduate of the program, Nonfiction Editor Rebecca Curtis.

The 2019 inaugural issue will be out this summer. The majority of pieces featured will be poems, and there are several translations, and a few short works of fiction and nonfiction, along with artworks. Some work from the college will be featured, but most of the pieces are from writers from out-of-state. The edition features authors from Northern NH, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Texas, and California, as well as translations of work from Iranian and Catalan poets.

Rivers, who edits translation and visual arts for the journal, stated, “Content wise, [while reading submissions] I was seeking what my favorite journals are publishing, such as The Offing, The Adroit, and NOON—lyrical, experimental, and incredibly diverse work. I also arrived at creative writing from translation studies as an undergraduate, so publishing works of translation in the new Henniker Review was my M.O.”

Nonfiction Editor Shilo Niziolek, whose work has appeared in journals like SLAB and Broad River Review, and who also read submissions for the upcoming edition, said she was looking for two things: “I want work that looks out at the world as well as looking inwards. The question I ask myself after reading a piece is: Did this move me? I need to feel something, and those feelings do not have to be inherently good, but if I read and work and feel nothing then the piece isn’t doing its job.”

For those in the community who wish to submit in the future, Rivers said: “The Henniker Review seeks out work that shows a love for language, experimentation, and craftsmanship. We want urgent & diverse voices, especially voices from historically-silenced peoples. We want writing that surprises us and keeps us re-reading over and over again.”

 

Managing Editor for the Henniker Review, Jacob Rivers. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Curtis.

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