NEW YORK (AP) — The longtime editor of one of the world’s oldest literary publications is stepping down.
J.D. McClatchy, a prize-winning poet and librettist, told The Associated Press he is leaving The Yale Review, effective at the end of this month. Harold Augenbraum, a visiting Fellow at Yale University and the former executive director of the National Book Foundation, will serve as editor until a permanent replacement is found.
“After 27 years as its editor (and for 10 years before that its unpaid poetry editor), it seemed enough,” McClatchy, who first informed the school of his decision a year ago, wrote in a recent email to the AP.
Known as “Sandy” to his friends, the 71-year-old McClatchy has published eight books of poetry and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2003 for “Hazmat.” He has also written 16 opera libretti, including an adaptation of Stephen King’s “Dolores Claiborne” that was performed at the San Francisco Opera in 2013.
Yale President Peter Salovey praised McClatchy for “bringing substantive articles and work of literary distinction to the wider public from a university where fine writing and the literary arts always have mattered. Yale is deeply grateful to him for the high distinction of the journal over so many years and looks forward to ensuring its continuity in a new age.”
The Review’s history dates back to 1819, when it was founded as a religious journal and called The Christian Spectator. The journal was renamed the Yale Review in 1892 and its modern form emerged in 1911, when Yale English professor Wilbur Cross became editor and vowed to make the Review a platform for “candid statements of different standpoints from writers of exceptional ability.” Virginia Woolf, Eugene O’Neill and Seamus Heaney have been among the many contributors.
Published four times a year, the Review makes few attempts to be fashionable, focusing on poetry, short fiction, and literary reviews and essays. Subscriptions are little more than 1,000, although online readership has been growing and the publication is widely available at libraries. Within the literary community, the Review is highly valued. When Yale University announced plans in 1990 to close it, citing financial issues, John Hersey, Joyce Carol Oates and Adrienne Rich were among those objecting and Yale alumni formed the Committee to Save The Yale Review. The school reversed itself, and McClatchy became editor.
“The Yale Review has been a terrific magazine under the editorship of Sandy McClatchy,” Oates told the AP. “Each essay, poem, story, review is of unusual interest, reflecting (one would surmise) the varied and quicksilver taste of the editor. Often when I read a contribution in the magazine I think, “Ah, I see why Sandy chose this!'”
In Yale’s announcement Tuesday, McClatchy said he was proud that “in an age of sidebars and short takes, The Yale Review has provided long, thoughtful pieces on crucial issues of the day, as well as a vibrant array of prize-winning literary work.” But in his recent email to the AP, he expressed some concerns. Financially, the Review is in good shape, thanks to “several generous donors,” he wrote. But subscription numbers “have fallen slightly” over the years, he added, and he wondered “if that is because of the impatient readership rather than the patient editors.”
“The publishing world has long since turned a big digital corner,” he wrote. “Things will have to change, here as elsewhere. I’m certain that the younger generations will do better at keeping up than my old-fashioned temperament could.”