Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

From the Interim Senior Editor

Stephen C. Behrendt
From Prairie Schooner, Vol. 85, No. 1 (Spring 2011)

This issue marks a moment of transition in the print life of Prairie Schooner. For more than twenty years, Hilda Raz served as Prairie Schooner's editor in chief, guiding this journal through times that were sometimes challenging but always exciting and rewarding for all who were associated with it during those years. Hilda's impact here and on the cultural scene generally, in the United States and abroad, has been profound and sustained, and while she has well earned the new adventure marked by her retirement from Prairie Schooner and the University of Nebraska at summer's end in 2010, her departure from Lincoln has left for her colleagues and friends a vacancy not easily to be filled. Indeed, here at Prairie Schooner there is no talk about "replacing" Hilda but only about following her, hoping all the while that we live up in some measure to the extraordinary standard she established for us.

One thing in which we have long taken special pride at Prairie Schooner is the distinguished roster of writers whose acquaintance we made early in their careers, and whose remarkable achievements we have watched with great satisfaction. As both a writer and an editor, Hilda has always had a finger on the contemporary literary pulse, and her visionary editorship was crucial in ensuring Prairie Schooner's ability not merely to survive but to thrive during the difficult decades when not just the fate of literary journals but indeed the fate of imaginative writing throughout American culture often seemed quite literally to hang in the economic and institutional balance. This journal remains today, in many respects, what it has always been: a venue for both those emerging voices and those more established, who continue, as always, at once to constitute and to shape the literary culture of America. At the same time, Prairie Schooner's visibility in new media formats like the Web—most recently under the aegis of Timothy Schaffert —reflects our commitment to engaging new generations of readers for whom a "literary tradition" is not something that is like the family silverware but is, instead, a living entity that is constantly evolving and being shaped from within even as it shapes the culture with which it is in continual conversation. Neither literary journals nor the daily press can long survive without the close—even intimate—interaction between writers and their readers, and Prairie Schooner's longstanding dedication to cultivating this dynamic conversation continues unabated.

This journal would not have reached its present point without the visionary leadership and selfless stewardship of a line of distinguished editors, from Lowry Wimberly (the first) through Karl Shapiro (during the fifties and early sixties) and eventually to Hilda Raz, its fifth. Hilda took over in 1987 and guided the journal to a visibility and prominence that its founders might scarcely have imagined when they initiated the journal in 1926. Hilda's enthusiastic advocacy of a stunning array of writers, in Prairie Schooner's pages and beyond, testifies to her unfailing instinct for the excellent, a forward-looking instinct that has been evident everywhere in this journal's pages for more than two decades. She has set a very high mark, and as she embarks upon her new adventures, all of us who know her, love her, and respect her wish her Godspeed and shalom.