Category: Uncategorized

Jacqui Banaszynski

Jacqui Banaszynski—Pulitzer winner, globe-trotting teacher, editor, writer, frequent presenter at the CASE Editors Forum—has been a friend of mine for more than 25 years. She thinks about the importance of story and the role of storyteller as well and with as much eloquence as anyone I know. The Romanian writer Cristian Lupsa, who has studied with her, recently posted this bit of writerly wisdom from Banaszynski. It reminds me of Brian Doyle:

Stories are our prayers. Write and edit them with due reverence, even when the stories themselves are irreverent.

Stories are parables. Write and edit and tell yours with meaning, so each tale stands in for a larger message, each story a guidepost on our collective journey.

Stories are history. Write and edit and tell yours with accuracy and understanding and context and with unwavering devotion to the truth.

Stories are music. Write and edit and tell yours with pace and rhythm and flow. Throw in the dips and twirls that make them exciting, but stay true to the core beat. Readers hear stories with their inner ear.

Stories are our soul. Write and edit and tell yours with your whole selves. Tell them as if they are all that matters. It matters that you do it as if that’s all there is.

Though you can never be sure where in the world she is at any given moment—Missouri, Florida, Romania, China, Maryland—Banaszynski has a house in Seattle. Next year’s Editors Forum will be in Seattle. You see where I’m going here.

So long for now

I need to take a few moments to make formal what should already have been apparent—UMagazinology has been put on hiatus. Actually, I’m moving it from simple neglect to hiatus status. Two reasons. One, it has become increasingly hard for me to find the time to devote to doing the job properly. Second, I think I’ve said just about everything I have to say. If you’ve been a reader here, and read my posts on CUE over the years, and heard me speak at conferences like the Editors Forum…well, you’ve heard it. Heard it multiple times, I fear. I’m keen on not boring you and I’ve started to bore myself.

So I’m going to mothball this project for a bit while I ponder a way forward that does justice to all of your magazines and your work and is also feasible for me. If I find a method for continuing, I’ll resume the blog; nothing here will disappear, we’re not shuttering the place, but we are spreading sheets on the furniture and turning off the water so the pipes don’t corrode. Thank you for reading all these years, thank you for your contributions, and thank you for the good work you do. Bye for now.

Best letter ever

We at Johns Hopkins Magazine have begun to receive reader responses to our theme issue. To refresh your memory, that would be The Fun Issue. Best letter so far, and I can’t imagine receiving a better one in the days ahead:

To the editor,

I would like to say that the Johns Hopkins Magazine “The Fun Issue” was very funny. I have said that because usually I do not pick up or read any magazine even the monthly “Highlights.” I liked the uncertified gender snowman, the 21 banjo players, and the men in the pool suspected to be running away from the banjo club. There are a few more things that are a tiny bit funny, but those are the main ones.


Eric _______, age 8

We’re going to send that kid a T shirt, and an application for early admission.

Return of the expat


Wellesley Magazine‘s spring issue carries an essay worthy of your attention. “Not All Here” is foreign correspondent Paula Butturini’s graceful pondering of the experience of returning to the United States after 32 years abroad in London, Madrid, London, Rome, Warsaw, Berlin, Rome, and Paris.

“Lucky you,” people often respond when they ask where we’ve lived. I’m always the first to agree. But I never know how to answer when they follow up with the inevitable, “What’s it like to be home?”

My gut response—a puzzled-sounding “Home?”—tends not to go down well. But the fact is I haven’t felt at home since we moved back, and didn’t expect I would.

Butturini returns to a country much changed.

Perhaps it’s the sea changes in American life that explain my unease. Who sent our factory jobs to the developing world while I was gone, our secretarial and administrative jobs to customers’ home computers? When did poisonous party politics replace public discourse? Who canonized a new class of oligarchs and decreed that stratospheric wealth was a heavenly nod from the Creator? When did public civility and civic obligation become quaint? How can white police shootings of young black men be back in the news, half a century after Selma—the march, not the movie?

I like this paragraph, too, and am in the author’s debt for introducing me to a German term I immediately embraced:

My husband suggests that we may be missing what the Germans call Idiotenfreiheit, or the freedom enjoyed by idiots, the insane, a freedom that can apply to foreigners as well. Foreigners living outside their home country often enjoy a large measure of psychological freedom; they may be treated much the same way a country treats its own citizens who are not quite “all there.”

Idiotenfreiheit indeed.

I’m all for more essays in university magazines. We’re the perfect place for them. And Wellesley did something else I like here, which was use four pages for a two-page essay. The first two pages are devoted to a graphic opener — illustration on first page, head and deck on the second, the essay text on pages three and four. Would like to see more of that.