New Web Editor!

An Introduction from Eric Jones

Filed under: Blog |

In Milledgeville, GA, where I come from, southern rock and southern food are the key nutrients in the city’s veins. Here in Lincoln, NE, it’s football and books. So when I moved here last year I immediately arranged to meet with the chair of the One Book, One Lincoln Committee to discuss the 2011 winner, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. (I also bought a Huskers Blackout Tee.)

Thus, two strangers separated by roughly fifty years of age met in a coffee shop on 84th Street and talked about the struggles of the medical profession in central Africa for about an hour. That, for me, is a bold testament to the power of literature. Because of Verghese’s accessibility, and novels like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, I have more understanding of the importance of African literature in the English speaking world and, even more so, an
understanding of the part writers play in bridging gaps between cultures, across oceans, and the synergy between readers and writers.

No other literature magazine in the United States has worked harder in the past few years to make that point clear than Prairie Schooner. With bold forays into the digital world like the Fusion web series, which partners American poets with writers across the world to explore the frailties and strengths that bind us together
as a species, to the distribution of e-content on Amazon Kindle, Prairie Schooner has proven that it’s not only ahead of the game, it’s ahead of the game for the right reasons. The African Poetry Book Fund, coordinated by Prairie Schooner and its partners, is the first stateside poetry book series for African writers–and that’s a major distinction.

Stepping into the fold, I am most astonished that these major innovations rest on the backs of only a few eager-hearted individuals chugging as vigorously as angry pistons pushing the mission of literature, which is to know one another as keenly as one knows oneself. As the new Web Editor, I can only step up to the line myself and begin the grind. As the Allman Brothers said, “everybody’s got a mountain to climb.” Or perhaps Flannery O’Connor said it best when she said “when in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville.”