When Manchester was announced as a UNESCO City of Literature in November, it felt as if the city’s fragmented history and its current disparate network of writers, publishers and readers could be seen together for the first time. The task of knitting together the various strands of activity and planning fell to a steering group, which is now in the process of developing a new governance structure. It will be tricky but vital work to engage fully with existing partners while remaining open to new ideas and, it is to be hoped, drawing in new partners and further investment in literature.
We know, from the level of submissions and the review work, how lively and various Manchester is as a literary city, but it is also clear that the ‘infrastructure’ for new (and experienced) writers and publishers can be developed, while the city’s radical history and its plethora of live nights and writers’ groups could be networked and sustained differently through festival development and, sometimes, more accessible and co-ordinated support structures. The Manchester Review, along with many other interested parties, looks forward to seeing how this designation develops along the initial three-year timeline outlined on the steering group’s site.
Putting together The Manchester Review is always a juggling act, the happenstance of good submissions and the perception that the journal is available to good new work. The flagship is the twice-a-year journal, but it depends on the reviews and social media to draw in the journal submission, and for the past two years, our assistant and co-ordinating editor, Lucy Burns, has done a notably excellent job in developing that aspect of this site. While doing so, Lucy has been working on her PhD in mid-century American poetry, to which she now returns full-time, although we hope to continue publishing her inventive, model reviews of contemporary poetry long into the future. And we welcome Canadian poet and critic Chad Campbell as, a tall order, her successor.
This, Lucy’s final issue, features a typically diverse representation of what the Manchester Review affords, creative work from across the world, including – among much else – work in translation, visual work from the Whitworth’s RAQS Collective show, an illuminating interview with the Canadian poet, typographer and translator Robert Bringhurst and in the new year we look forward to publishing a great showing of new poems from the late and much-lamented Irish poet Gerard Fanning.