Pembroke Magazine Number 44, the literary journal of UNC Pembroke, was published in August.
With the 44th annual edition, Editor Jennifer Key said she stayed close to journal’s roots, and the theme was “The American South.”
“I implemented new strategies to cultivate audiences, including those in our native Robeson County,” Key said. “Our 2012 issue focused on concerns most relevant to those in our immediate community while also celebrating the work of writers across the state of North Carolina.”
Number 44 featured fiction, poetry and essays that examined topics of special relevance for those in contemporary rural regions of the South - poverty, race, class and landscape.
“With this issue, Pembroke Magazine sought to engage authors with a close connection to the literary significance of the South, and especially to North Carolina and the rural region of Robeson County,” Key said. “To that end, contributors included regional, state and southern authors.”
Out of 30 contributing writers, more than half hailed from the South, nine were from North Carolina and five from the vicinity of Robeson County.
“This issue showcases a high caliber of writers, many whose voices are new to Pembroke Magazine,” the editor said. “Our hope is that these authors’ work will help the magazine extend its reach both in and outside of Pembroke's region. “
Key, who recently won the Tampa Review prize for a book of poetry, has stepped down as editor and has moved to Asheville, N.C.
New editor Jessica Pitchford took up duties this fall. An Arkansas native, Dr. Pitchford writes fiction and will teach creative writing workshops in UNCP’s English and Theatre Department.
“I’m thrilled to be here,” Dr. Pitchford said. “I’ve been spending time in the archives reading old copies, and I plan to continue Pembroke Magazine’s tradition since 1969 of publishing great literature by outstanding writers—established and emerging. I’m a big fan of North Carolina writers, so this is like a literary mecca for me,” she said.
Dr. Pitchford earned her MFA from McNeese State University and her Ph.D. from Florida State University, where she minored in Southern Literature and served as editor-in-chief of The Southeast Review. Her first novel, “Can’t Walk Out,” is currently under review by publishers.
“The Southern writer label is something I embrace,” she said. “It’s the people and setting I know and love.”
A number of Dr. Pitchford’s short stories have been published in literary journals both in print and online. Recent work can be found in Extract(s), Lunch Ticket, Story South, New Delta Review, Big Muddy, and the Arkansas Review. Her stories have also been finalists in contests sponsored by Broad River Review, Southern Indiana Review, and Gulf Coast, among others.
For Pembroke Magazine’s new editor, literary journals are the lifeblood of up-and-coming writers and established writers as well.
“At Pembroke Magazine, I hope to continue in the tradition of publishing fine literature,” Dr. Pitchford said. “It is a wonderful literary resource that has endured while so many other journals have gone under or been forced to change the way they publish.”
Dr. Pitchford believes the journal has even more to give in its 45th year and beyond.
“It’s got a lot to offer,” she said. “I am excited to reach out to an even wider community of writers and audiences for future editions.”
To that end, Dr. Pitchford will polish and add to its online presence.
“The newest print edition has already garnered favorable comments on Facebook,” she said. “And deservedly so—Jennifer Key did a fantastic job assembling a compelling collection, a real tribute to the South. I look forward to helping promote the print issue online. This is how literary journals will succeed in the digital age.”
This issue was funded in part by an Arts and Audiences grant from the North Carolina Arts Council.