Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In Celebration of a Life: Jeanne Leiby, Editor, The Southern Review

Jeanne Leiby 1964 - 2011
I never met Jeanne Leiby, but I spoke to her on the phone for over an hour one lovely afternoon. Initially, Jeanne called to let me know that she was accepting two of my poems for The Southern Review. I think it was her habit to deliver good news personally. When she called and I wasn't home,  she left a message. Again, she didn't need to make that extra effort that I should re-contact her. When we finally did find a mutual time to chat, it was memorable.

Jeanne let me know what her staff had thought of my two poems and how they had debated different issues at their meeting. She went on to give me a goldmine of advice on how to be a poet in the world. "The hand written note is the new technology," she stated. She told me of her success sending TSR out for reviews with a small note and the resulting rise in reviews.

We discussed how she could encourage more women poets to submit their work to The Southern Review. She was adamant about her new vision for the journal. I told her about a small pr group I'd started to help women writers get their books launched. We shared ideas.

When the issue of TSR arrived I was spellbound by the cover art and the artist's portfolio inside.


I wrote Jeanne to thank her for including my poems in such a stellar issue and told her of my adoration of the cover. Her response was to pass my comments on to Edward Pramuk -- making sure my praise made it all the way to the artist. Again, she made that extra effort to connect people.

She had just posted to her FaceBook page early yesterday. I had read her posting in the morning so the messages that were adding up last night referring to her in the past tense, just didn't make any sense.

No, I didn't know Jeanne Leiby, but I felt like I did. I was looking forward to meeting her at the next AWP, I was planning on seeing what she thought of some new poems, I thought we had all the time in the world.

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