The Curator is where I started.
I wrote my first essay for The Curator almost three years ago. This was the first time I had written something other than a school paper, the first time I was published and when non-professorial eyeballs read my words. The publication was a gift, but so was the process that went into it—the editing, the conversation before and after publication. This initial experience still forms how I think about writing and editing.
The Curator is where a lot of others have started as well. As an organization we pride ourselves as being a gym for writers and editors, a launching pad to other communities and conversations. Authors stay for a while and have their voices crafted and enlarged. Critical lenses are refined.
In October of last year, for my inaugural editor-in-chief piece, I stated The Curator is about the “well-said yes.” As a magazine we hope to interact with art and culture from a posture of generosity, criticism, careful attention to the particular. Ultimately, we are looking for life, the beautiful and the true, and cast a wide net looking for it.
There are no doubt moments when we have failed when fishing for beauty. The essayist Charles D’Ambrosio, commenting on a piece of art outside a courthouse, said the following:
“Looking at it you feel less in the elevated presence of art than hammered over the head by a governmental or bureaucratic intention, and the effect is of Sovietized realism, of culture that’s policed, official, approved, frozen, clichéd, one-note, panderly, in other words, everything that art is not.
Magazines always have to avoid the danger this art fell into, for conversations about art and culture can exhibit the same undesirable qualities—they can be joyless, didactic, self-congratulatory, and injudicious. Good conversations take work, “unhurried intimacies,” forms of friendship.
The Curator, is about the “well said yes” because, in the words of our original mission statement, we are about helping create “the world that ought to be.” Since 2008, we’ve try to publish the words and cultivate the conversation that this hoped for world deserves.
In the past year we’ve published wonderful pieces. Words on singer Tom Waits, Shirley Jackson and the ordinariness of evil, the Psalms for Ferguson series, on It Follows and original sin, and voice and intimacy in Marilynne Robinson’s Lila. We are excited about publishing more.
Right now, we are surviving, yet we want to do more than survive. We want to grow. We want to pay our authors more than the equivalent of a few lattes. But we want to grow not just by doing more of the same, but also by trying something different. In the coming months, we are hoping to launch both writer-in-residence program and institutional partnerships. These changes are about giving more writers and editors “starts” at The Curator, about continuing a life-giving community and conversation, and finding new ways of saying an old sort of yes.
Would you consider contributing to our Patreon campaign? This contribution is about paying our contributors and making sure the magazine continues, but it is also about helping us take this next big step.