Many of you know that Relief Journal is in the process of transition. I’m here to give an official update on the situation. After a number of years of service, Brad Fruhauff felt it was the right time to step down as Editor-in-Chief of Relief. I will be taking over in that role, and transitioning Relief’s operations to Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. This will enable the journal to benefit from an unprecedented level of structural support while retaining in full its editorial autonomy and unique spirit.
Before I continue: If Relief has meant something to you—moreover if the conversation at the intersection of faith and art means something to you—please make a point of thanking Brad for his work. His contributions have done nothing short of helping shape the contemporary landscapes of Christian faith, imagination, and creativity that are critical to many of us. Brad has agreed to stay on in the capacity of Board member and the special role of Senior Editorial Adviser. We’ll lean on his experience and knowledge as we move forward with the transition. Again, please take a second to thank him at email@example.com. * * *
Allow me to introduce myself, then discuss my vision for the next era in the life of Relief. I want Relief’s longtime readers and contributors to know that this journal is ultimately landing in the right hands, even as the transition has meant we’ve been in a holding pattern for a number of months.
My name is Dan Bowman. In the mid-1990s, as a freshman at a small Christian liberal arts college in upstate New York, I took a literature class that changed the course of my life. Through the truth and beauty of the poems and stories, and our probing discussions of them, I realized that if I could choose a place to stay, a place where I would have the chance to flourish, it would be at the intersection of literature and Christian faith. I haven’t looked back since.
My path led me to an MA in comparative literature from the University of Cincinnati and an MFA in poetry from Seattle Pacific University. My debut collection of poems is A Plum Tree in Leatherstocking Country (Virtual Artists Collective, 2012), and I’ve since completed a novel called Beggars in Heaven along with a good number of essays.
My work has appeared in several recent books, such as How to Read a Poem (TS Poetry, 2014) and Not Yet Christmas: An Advent Reader (Seedbed, 2014), and in periodicals like The Adirondack Review, American Poetry Journal, Books & Culture, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (Hong Kong/London), Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), The Midwest Quarterly, Pyrta (India), Rio Grande Review, Saint Katherine Review, Seneca Review, and others. I’ve blogged here at Relief, and occasionally at Image Journal’s Good Letters; I currently blog for Ruminate.
I grew up in Mohawk, New York, and live with my wife Bethany and our two kids in Hartford City, Indiana, where I’m Associate Professor of English at Taylor University.
Like many of you, I am sustained and inspired by art-and-faith events (in particular the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe and the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College); by many, many books; and by magazines like Relief. In those spaces I’ve been both comforted and challenged, always nudged toward my best self. I couldn’t be happier to take the helm of a journal that exists to further those very conversations, to explore and inhabit the richness of, as we say in our mission statement, “a complete picture of Christ and life—real, gritty, painful, wonderful, this-side-of-heaven life.”
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Beginning in the 2016-17 academic year, Relief will return to its publication schedule of two issues per year. But starting now, and ongoing throughout this year, the Relief team is working toward these long-term goals that we believe will enable the journal to come into its fullest expression:
- Moving operations into permanent physical office space on the campus of Taylor University (to be opened at select times for visits from writers and readers),
- Expanding readership of the blog and the print journal (including expanding subscriptions to individuals and libraries),
- Expanding the pool of submissions to include more literary writers from around the world whose works attain excellence and engage faith in evocative ways,
- Enhancing our presence on social media, ensuring consistent and meaningful platforms that allow crucial conversations and relationships to develop and thrive,
- Attending key national conferences, including Festival of Faith and Writing, AWP (lack of funding has precluded Relief’s attendance in recent years), and several regional gatherings in the Midwest,
- Engaging the next generation of art-and-faith writers and readers by involving passionate, talented university students in key support roles of Relief’s weekly operations,
- Empowering Relief’s editorial team with trained interns so that genre editors can read and respond to every submission carefully and quickly, and
- Developing a small literary press, Relief Books, to publish 2-3 full-length books of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry each year (stay tuned for submission details!) and offering our authors a high level of support in connecting with readers.
As you can see, these are not cosmetic changes, but substantial objectives that will put Relief in a position to facilitate better than ever the kind of art that’s been at its core since the journal’s inception.
In the short-term, our goals are more modest but equally important:
- Completing the transition of the nonprofit to Taylor and the state of Indiana,
- Applying for substantial grant monies,
- Onboarding Aaron Housholder as new fiction editor and Adele Konyndyk Gallogly as new blog editor,
- Reading and responding to every current submission in all genres,
- Rebuilding, and reconvening regular meetings of, the Board of Directors as well as a new Advisory Board to oversee operations, give counsel, and help shape the future of the journal and press,
- Publishing a sizeable issue in the late winter/early spring of 2016 (submissions in all genres are open and will be attended to very carefully in the coming weeks!),
- Finding some way to thank/compensate/retain one-time-intern-turned-Managing-Editor Hannah Haney for her incredible dedication and hard work over the past year,
- Thanking, retaining, and better supporting the diverse, extremely talented, and soul-stirring writers who have given their time and talent to Relief’s blog, and
- Winning back the goodwill of readers and writers whose work or correspondence may have slipped through the cracks during this long holding pattern of the last year.
To that last point…please send me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) if your submission is sitting in our queue and you still do not hear from us by Thanksgiving. It’s my goal for us to attend to every submission by then, and we’ve scheduled several meetings in the coming weeks toward that goal. From there on out, we will have somewhat shorter reading periods, with a break in the summer, to ensure that every submission can be carefully considered in a timely manner in the future.
I will be back here with updates soon! Thank you for your patience. I believe it will be worth it for us all as we move forward.