LIKE A BOMB: “From 1957 to 1973, The Evergreen Review landed every other month in mailboxes like a bomb, busting long-held ideas about literature, decency, and taste. It was a magazine that allowed many Americans to discover for the first time work by the likes of Samuel Beckett, Bertolt Brecht, William S. Burroughs, Jean-Paul Sartre, and other figures of the post World War II literary avant-garde. . . . At a time when college kids prefer Snapchat to short stories, and 'anything goes' has been going on for seemingly forever, the legendary magazine is being relaunched this week.”—David Freedlander, The Daily Beast, March 1, 2017
The history: in 1957, Barney Rosset, Fred Jordan and a few others launched The Evergreen Review with work by Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre, Mark Schorer, and James Purdy.
For the next sixteen years, Evergreen published writing that launched an assault on American propriety: literary, sexual, and social. Evergreen’s genius lay in its ability to mix radical American voices from the literary and social fringes—Burroughs, Ginsberg, Susan Sontag, LeRoi Jones, Henry Miller—with a global cast of writers, many of whom were introduced to American readers by the magazine: Beckett, Genet, Duras, Grass, Ōe, Paz, Walcott, Nabokov. The magazine was often shocking, always intriguing. It featured some of the finest writing available, by writers whose influence continues to shape contemporary literature.
Under the leadership of publisher John Oakes and editor-in-chief Dale Peck, we hope to continue that tradition of inventiveness.
The present: in 2017, The Evergreen Review, the feisty independent magazine known as "the heart of the Beats," returns. The new Evergreen builds on a legacy of searching out the stories that aren’t being told or aren’t being heard: stories that challenge our sensibilities and expand our understanding of the way people actually live in the world and the way their truths can be expressed. Available free of charge online, the magazine features fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from an international array of new and established writers.
We are committed to expanding the contemporary literary conversation in ways that open up both the semantic and social contexts for the work we publish. The magazine will publish three issues its first year, as well as occasional pieces between issues, occasioned by public events or timely developments in the literary world. Our first issue features work from acclaimed writers such as Jeffery Renard Allen and Gary Indiana; emerging talents such as filmmaker Frances Bodomo, photographer Hadji Johnali, and writer Jade Sharma; and well-known artists in mid-career, including novelists Yoko Tawada and Álvaro Enrigue and painters Joy Garnett and Katie Merz.
Evergreen pushes aesthetic and political boundaries: Bodomo is Ghanaian, Enrigue Mexican, Johnali Iranian, and Tawada Japanese-German. Johnali’s full-sized photographs of Muslim prayer rugs inscribed with wry graffiti challenge notions of piety and identity. Allen’s essay, “Urgently Visible: Why Black Lives Matter,” begins with the assertion "White folks in America are the most dangerous people on earth. No two ways about it.” Gary Indiana’s “Romanian Conversation” centers on the relationship between an American writer and someone who is presumably his paid male companion, as they observe a group of heterosexual prostitutes and their pimps working a street in Romania. And Yoka Tawada’s “Memoirs of a Polar Bear” is just that: the life story of a talking polar bear sent as a gift from the USSR to East Berlin.
Although dedicated to new work, Evergreen cherishes its awe-inspiring past. The debut issue features founding publisher Barney Rosset’s account of the Tropic of Cancer obscenity trials, as well as a nod to one of Evergreen’s most famous alums in “Samuel Beckett Is Closed” by Michael Coffey. Evergreen takes advantage of the possibilities of digital publishing to feature dynamic visuals, including original films like Bodomo’s “Boneshaker,” the story of an African family looking for a church meeting in the deep South. Evergreen explores new publishing strategies as well: free PDFs of the first three issues from 1957 are available, and more is to come, thanks to our partnership with OR Books.
The campaign: the $40,000 we're looking to raise will enable us to hire a part-time staffer; to put the rest of our incredible, irreplaceable archives online—and most of all, to continue paying our authors and artists top dollar. A word about those archives: they're so packed with gems it's hard to describe them without superlatives. Picking at random: issue #17, from March 1961, includes a translation by Samuel Beckett of Robert Pinget's "The Old Tune," as well as poetry by William Carlos Williams and Friedrich Dürrenmatt's "The Tunnel"; issue #23, from March 1962, includes the work of Robert Coover, poet Gregory Corso, and the 17th century Chinese poet Li Yü; issue #94, from December 1971, features a sequel to Pauline Réage's "Story of O" and new fiction by William S. Burroughs. We want to make our archives accessible (and free) all the way from issue #1 to the last print issue, #96 (1973)—and to do so with careful, loving design.
Join us, and become a part of the launch of the new wave of The Evergreen Review, a politically committed, progressive magazine.
Many thanks to our friends at chucandy.com for the video!
Risks and challenges
Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, and most of the early Evergreen's fabulous contributors no longer walk the earth. We don't expect to duplicate that extraordinary roster; our challenge is to make the magazine as compulsively readable.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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