Exposing the world to some of the most talented authors is the simple, yet demanding goal of Richard Burgin.
|The covers of the two most recent Boulevard releases. The 25th anniversary edition (left) and the fall 2010 publication. Photo by Jeremiah Ingram|
For more than a quarter of a century, Saint Louis University communication professor Richard Burgin has immersed himself in just that task as the founding editor of the highly-acclaimed literary journal Boulevard.
Burgin, the five-time Pushcart Prize winner for his own writing, founded Boulevard with a small group of writers in 1985 and published the journal on the East Coast for its first 11 years before moving its home to Saint Louis University.
Boulevard's start took inspiration from two previous commercial publications Burgin edited while living in Boston and New York City. With those publications, he diverged from the classical form of literary journals and included reviews of books, music and poetry, and published original graphic art and photography.
That mixing of styles and elements is one of the key foundations of Boulevard.
"We try to achieve a balance between the established, renowned writers and the younger or lesser-known and put them together," Burgin said.
While Burgin can rattle off the names of the notable authors who have graced the pages of the magazine -- John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, John Ashbery and the former Poet Laureate Billy Collins -- the goal of providing an avenue for the unknown and the unpublished authors through Boulevard writing contests, he says, is one of the most satisfying outcomes of the journal.
"The sole purpose of those contests is that they exclude the famous, the established, or even the published. That's always gratifying."
|Photo by Jeremiah Ingram|
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Nearly 10,000 original works are submitted each year for review -- the majority of which are unsolicited - and Burgin relies on a team of readers who essentially screen the submissions because, after all, there is only so much space.
"We have to reject a lot of good work, just because we can't begin to publish all of the good work we get," Burgin said. "So it's a question of selecting what we think are the most interesting, moving pieces."
And that's just to get to the contenders.
Burgin says the final composition and editing of the journal is a labor of love.
"I like to make things. I look at it as a creative endeavor," he said. "I'm trying to make a contribution by publishing the work of others, shaping it into a whole that I can feel proud of and giving exposure to writers who deserve it. Not just younger writers, but also perhaps even more importantly, older writers who are worthy of more exposure and recognition and haven't gotten it."
AT HOME AT SLU
|Founding editory Richard Burgin poses with the latest releases of Boulevard. Photo by Jeremiah Ingram|
Boulevard and Burgin moved to SLU in 1996.
When asked about the journal's impact on Saint Louis University, he said, "I'd like to think it raises the profile of SLU nationally in terms of supporting literature and the arts, which is what all great institutions do. I'm tremendously grateful to Saint Louis University for doing this and for all the other ways it has supported me over the years"
Fans of the popular SLU publication can look forward to a "best of" anthology, which Burgin says is in the works.
As for the future, Burgin says that he and his staff "are always working on trying to making things better," and that readers can enjoy the increased internet presence at the Boulevard website and through social media on Facebook and Twitter.
In November, Burgin will release his second novel, Rivers Last Longer. Read more about the release of his latest novel here.