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Across the Transom

PUBLISHED: August 1, 2013

Benjamin Rachlin bees

Since my appointment as editor of VQR, I’ve frequently been asked about the direction I plan to take the magazine. The question comes from both writers and readers, with writers wondering if VQR will be a welcoming home for their work and readers hoping they will continue to find compelling stories in our pages. I’m pleased to say that the Summer 2013 issue fits well within my vision for VQR: a balance between reporting, essays, fiction, poetry, and criticism. One article in particular relates to one of my goals as editor: to publish the work of emerging writers.

Benjamin Rachlin’s “The Accidental Beekeeper” is thoughtful and thoroughly reported, profiling both a beekeeper and the business behind the locally produced honey many of us encounter at a farmers’ market. It is an “across the transom” submission discovered amidst hundreds of pitches and articles that came to VQR through our online submission portal. “Ben’s essay reflected such precision in his control of the prose and pacing and all the elements of good writing, that I knew we needed to move quickly on it,” VQR’s deputy editor, Paul Reyes, noted. “Something that good doesn’t stay unnoticed for long. It’s exciting to discover great talent in the slush pile, but that excitement is pretty quickly replaced by an anxiety over another editor beating you to it.”

Soon after my arrival at VQR, I read Rachlin’s story in page proofs and was taken by the balance he sought in the story, which examines the issues facing beekeepers in general by looking at two warring beekeeper factions in North Carolina. Like any good story, “The Accidental Beekeeper” transports you into the world the writer is exploring. Although I’d never don beekeeping gear or attend a beekeepers’ association meeting on my own, Rachlin’s story captured the tensions between professional beekeepers and hobbyists in a way that made me feel as if I were right beside him during all of his reporting.

Since reading “The Accidental Beekeeper,” VQR’s editors continue to review submissions via Submittable. From May 1–July 31, we received 3,459 total submissions: 1,905 in fiction, 1,282 in poetry, and 272 in nonfiction. Individual poetry submissions may include up to five poems, which means that we received a total of 5,000-7,000 submissions over the last three months.

Except for nonfiction pitches, submissions close at the end of today (August 1, 2013), and we plan to review those submissions thoroughly. And, like “The Accidental Beekeeper,” we hope we will publish several of them as well.


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