Evergreen Review, the legendary counterculture and literary quarterly founded by celebrated Grove Press publisher Barney Rosset, is being revived as an online publication. The online version of the historic publication went live earlier this week.
Originally founded in 1957 by Rosset, the relaunched Evergreen Review is being published by John Oakes, cofounder of OR Books, who worked for Rosset at Grove Press early in his book publishing career. To oversee the new iteration of the publication, Oakes assembled an editorial staff that includes novelist Dale Peck (in the role of editor-in-chief), novelist Calvin Baker (in the role of executive editor) and author Zia Jaffrey (who is serving as international editor).
Calling the original ER "an unbelievable publication" featuring a "roster of writers that can’t be duplicated,” Peck said that nonetheless he will look to Rosset's original print version for guidance. When ER initially launched, Peck explained, Rosset "didn’t overplan it, so I’m trying to follow that. We’re going to make the new ER an international forum for un-sayable things.”
To mark the relaunch, OR Books, an independent publishing house Oakes runs with Colin Robinson, will release the first three issues of the original Evergreen Review as paperback facsimile editions, recreating the original volumes. (The original quarterly issues were paperback volumes.) The facsimile editions will be published under a partnership between OR Books and Foxrock Books, Rosset's last publishing imprint.
“No one can claim Barney’s mantle. He was amazing,” Oakes said. With that in mind, Oakes claimed that the revived ER is also intended to be a tribute to Rosset, who died in 2012. “We’re not trying to recreate Evergreen Review. But we think Barney would be sympathetic to what we’re doing.”
Speaking to how the project got off the ground, Oakes said the ER board approached him after Rosset’s death about reviving the publication. Two years ago he began to work on drafting a new incarnation of ER and said the publication is being financed initially by funds raised by the nonprofit Evergreen Review Foundation. Oakes added: "We’ve raised money to fund the publication and we’ll continue to raise money.”
The new ER launched with articles by, among others, novelist Jeffrey Renard Allen, poet (and former PW editor) Michael Coffey, writer Gary Indiana and artist Katie Merz.
Although all contributors are paid, currently, the editorial staff is not. Oakes said is looking to change that.
The original Evergreen Review featured a wide range of cutting edge literary, pop culture and radical political writing by such authors as Jean Paul Satre, LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, Borges, Malcolm X, Susan Sontag and Marguerite Duras. The quarterly was briefly relaunched online in 1998 by Rosset and his wife, Astrid Myers Rosset, before shutting down in 2013.
Asked about the ER archive, a collection of writing by an array of international literary stars, Peck said he and his staff are still trying to figure out how best to use the material. “We’re focused on publishing new, original material. But we’ll come up with some way to connect to the archive.”
Peck added: “We don’t want to just publish on Rosset’s coattails. But the Evergreen Review archive is just too good to not make it available. We’ll find a balance."