Pembroke Magazine No. 43 was published in the early fall, and like the season, the journal is changing in ways both subtle and evident.
Faithful readers of UNC Pembroke’s annual edition of the literary journal will find themselves on familiar ground, recognizing material by several well-known writers. However, this entire edition is dedicated to a writer whose work never appeared in the magazine: its former editor, acclaimed poet Shelby Stephenson.
“This issue gave us an opportunity to honor Shelby,” said the journal’s new editor Jennifer Key. “It is also the first time Shelby’s poetry has been in Pembroke Magazine.”
In addition to Stephenson’s poetry, No. 43 contains articles praising his work, including essays by Tony Abbott, a longtime friend and poet, UNCP faculty member Jim Helgeson and UNCP Professor Emeritus Ray Rundus, who helped bring Stephenson to Pembroke and helped appointed him editor of Pembroke Magazine.
“Shelby Stephenson is gifted with the transcendent impulse to make the local universal,” Dr. Rundus wrote. He was “a mentor and preceptor and comrade-in-arms of hundreds of aspiring writers in North Carolina and beyond.”
Regular readers of Pembroke Magazine may recognize Stephenson’s influence in the most recent issue; before his retirement in 2010, he had already selected poems for publication in No. 43.
“We included the last poems that Shelby selected for this edition,” Key said. “They are his great friends and contributors to the magazine, including longtime contributor Glenna Luschei.” And there is Shelby, who stubbornly resisted publishing his own work while others published it regularly. Among Stephenson’s four poems in No. 43, is “Cotton-eyed Dancer’s Run:”
Here in my limbs
low this Sabbath’s autumn
insects scattered toward frost
this light coming up now
before the birthing house
a woman, abundant in her carriage,
her bucket full of sidedressing, bends her back
and crouches between the hilled corn, sowing white granules.
Alone in the field she looks around to see who’s there.
Her white palms sow a maximum hope.
She wipes sweat from her forehead with her sleeve.
No. 43 is Key’s first issue as Pembroke Magazine’s editor, and its content shows some things old and some things new. The new editor is seeking out new writers, just as Stephenson said.
“The majority of work in this edition was submitted to the journal rather than solicited from established writers,” she said. “I’d say it is about 80 percent submitted work.”
To see the new face of the magazine, Key recommended works by Melissa Kirsch, Jennifer Cranfill, Michael Narducci and Morri Creech, a poet from Charlotte. “There are some younger writers, yes,” Key said. While Pembroke Magazine is branching out under Key’s guidance, the celebrated journal won’t stray far from its Southern roots.
“I’m reading now for the next issue,” Key said. “Its theme is ‘The American South,’ and we will be accepting work from Southern writers and writers who write about the South.”
Pembroke Magazine got another boost this year from a $5,000 Arts and Audiences grant from the North Carolina Arts Council. It will be used to upgrade the website and the technology needed to create the journal.
“The grant is greatly appreciated and will help Pembroke Magazine reach new audiences,” Key said. “Our advisory board is also considering a fundraiser to help support future publications.”
To obtain a copy of Pembroke Magazine No. 43 or for more information, please contact Jennifer Key at 910.521.6433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.