Virginia Quarterly Review Publisher Jon Parrish Peede, who has led the publication for the past five years, has resigned effective September 30 to return to his writing career, nonprofit consulting, and arts advocacy.
This year, Peede oversaw the operational transition of VQR from the office of the Vice President for Research to the newly established Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. Media Studies Professor Siva Vaidhyanathan, the founding director of the center, thanked Peede for his service to the publication.
“Jon Peede has served VQR with creativity and commitment through much transition,” Vaidhyanathan said. “He served during a time of great financial pressure on magazines. Throughout his time with VQR, the magazine published some of the finest prose, fiction, poetry, and photography in the world.”
As Publisher, Peede administered a $1 million budget, supervised a four-person professional staff, and oversaw all business and administrative operations including print, online, and digital readership, business development, donor relations, and external partnerships. Under his leadership, VQR increased its earned revenue by more than 25 percent, became the only UVA magazine to ever receive three consecutive NEA grants, expanded its annual online reach by more than 400,000 people, and passed the alumni magazine for the largest online audience for any UVA publication. In addition to its 700,000 annual online readers, VQR has print subscribers in eighteen countries, and electronic-access editions are sold in fifty-one countries. He hired and supervised a talented editorial staff that received six National Magazine Award nominations, including two for General Excellence.
As the former National Endowment for the Arts Literature Director, Peede came to VQR with extensive connections in the literary community. He brought on Richard Bausch, editor of the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, as a Contributing Editor, and he hired former NEA Chairman Dana Gioia as Poetry Editor; both writers concluded their stellar service to the magazine this year.
Peede acquired and edited numerous Pulitzer Prize winners, including Peter Balakian, Michael Dirda, Rita Dove, Beth Henley, Philip Kennicott, Kay Ryan, Elizabeth Strout, and Natasha Trethewey. And he edited interviews with two Nobel laureates, Alice Munro and Derek Walcott.
He worked with a number of UVA faculty members, including Ann Beattie, Rita Dove, Mark Edmundson, Paul Guest, Kevin Hart, Debra Nystrom, and Lisa Russ Spaar.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jon as he’s meticulously edited my stories, of getting good advice and invaluable recommendations of books I should read, and most of all I’ve had the pleasure of having him become my friend,” Beattie says. “I’ve put the issues of VQR he presided over among my books, in the bookcase. About literary matters, he sees so clearly that it takes you a while to realize he’s always contextualizing, always looking through a manuscript with x-ray vision, hovering above it to give an overview, and raising an essential question because of what he sees in his peripheral vision. If this makes him sound like a hummingbird, he is, in a way: quick-thinking, fast-moving, fascinating, and inspirational as a person and as an editor.”
Peede’s VQR acquisitions have been reprinted in the Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, Best American Travel, Best American Science & Nature, O. Henry, and Pushcart anthologies. He also edited Kennicott’s essay “Smuggler,” a 2014 National Magazine Award finalist.
“I love editing well-known writers such as Stephen King and Kevin Young, but discovering new talent is a great pleasure, too,” Peede says. “As I return to writing cultural criticism, I am particularly excited about getting the word out about lesser known international authors. I admire my VQR colleagues for many reasons, but especially for their commitment to publishing emerging writers. I know they will be successful stewards of this historic magazine.”
This fall Peede will focus on board service to three nonprofit organizations. He is board president of the Piedmont Council for the Arts (Charlottesville), board chair of the SonEdna Foundation (Charleston, MS), and on the national council of the Margaret Walker Center Archive and Museum of the African American Experience at Jackson State University (Jackson, MS).
The Virginia Quarterly Review has been published continuously at UVA since 1925. Issues are available on newsstands nationwide at select independent and Barnes & Noble bookstores. For information, visit www.vqronline.org.