When, in 2012, Nan Gefen was ready to move on from Persimmon Tree, the wonderful online magazine I had been reading and loving since it premiered, she hoped to pass it along to someone, to keep it alive. When the beloved – and now late – Marcia Freedman asked if I would be interested, she caught me at a good time in my life. I was in my mid-seventies, I had retired from a life of paid work, and I had time and energy. And, soon, ideas.
Nan and her team were based in Berkeley. I pulled together a group of talented women who, like me, live in New York City (keeping Marcia, who helped with all the ways of raising money, and Gena Raps, who was already in New York anyway) and adding Poetry Editor Wendy Barker, a longtime Texan.
We became more and more comfortable with our decisions, with our choices. The submissions increased and it became harder and harder to reject as much fine work as we had to for reasons of space. The magazine got better and better; I could not be more proud of what Persimmon Tree has become. Now I, like Nan, am ready to move on.
Happily, we have found Margaret Wagner, a talented editor from Washington, D.C., to replace me. Margaret began her career with the Publishing Office of the Library of Congress as a writer/editor, and ended as its Managing Editor. She is experienced in all phases of publishing, both print and online, from preliminary research to design and publication, working with writers, editors, and designers to ensure that deadlines and all other obligations were met.
She is also a published author. Her books include Maxfield Parrish and the Illustrators of the Golden Age, The American Civil War: 365 Days, World War II: 365 Days, The Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War, and America and the Great War: A Library of Congress Illustrated History – the last title designated by Choice magazine as an outstanding academic title of 2017.
Margaret’s passions include wide reading and a deep appreciation for the power and importance of fiction, poetry, music, and the visual arts. I am confident she will keep the magazine a magnet for all those topics.
So, dear readers. This issue is my last; Margaret will be in charge beginning this summer. As I leave, I want to thank all who made my tenure so enjoyable. Special thanks to my team, most of whom will continue to work with on the magazine:
Elizabeth Zimmer, prized proofreader who seems to know everything and catches all errors.
Gena Raps, Music Editor, who added interviews with musicians, shared with us the delights of her own performances, and was a whiz at setting the next topic for Short Takes.
Cynthia Hogue, Poetry Editor extraordinaire, who, together with Jean Zorn, managed our search for a new Editor.
Greta Berman, Art Editor, who introduced us to so much original and previously unfamiliar – to us – work.
Kitty Cunningham, whose wisdom, warmth, and steady support kept us centered.
And editors, like Natalie Levy, Wendy Barker, and Peggy Shumaker, who moved on to other parts of their lives.
Laura Laytham, webmistress with all the skills none of the rest of us has, who has translated words, music, and art into cyberspace language so you all could read us wherever you may be.
And, with deepest love and gratitude, Nan Fink Gefen, who held my hand from day one and will do so until the day that I, too, become Emerita.
And finally, all the readers and contributors who have made Persimmon Tree such a welcoming and rewarding home for me this past decade.
In 2014, a French friend, Moira Sauvage, submitted a piece about the pleasures of coming into my home in New York. That piece became our first Sketch; as I am about to walk out that door as I walk away from Persimmon Tree, it seems fitting that we reprint it in this issue. The books are almost packed up; my mom’s glass turtles will find another shelf, and Guthrie the Golden and Dmitri the elegant Siamese will soon be stuffed in their carriers to be taken, reluctantly, to their new home.
I end this Editor’s Page – as I began this Spring issue – with a photo of the very persimmon-filled tree that inspired Nan’s name for her magazine. I especially love that this image was taken recently by Nan’s granddaughter, Enya Koblenz. The generations carry on.
30 Comments on “From the Editor”
What a blessing it was to find Persimmon Tree. You published my haibun — a story interrupted by haiku– about a dramatic night, an strange event with my husband to be.
I love it, perhaps more than anything of mine published. Thank you, Sue, many times over!
Sue, it has been a pleasure being published–even being edited!–by you. I liked knowing you were there; you will be missed. Good luck in all things.
Sue–I’m truly sorry to see you go, and I’m also truly wishing you a happy retirement. I remember you noting that not all writers were as happy with your editing as I was, so I want to reitereate that one couldn’t have a more thoughtful and helpful editor. I know your staff will miss you as much as Persimmon’s writers will.
Dear Sue, your acceptance of my work revived my life. I am forever grateful for finding you. Blessings.
Sue – I will always remember you as my very first editor! Thank you so much for your help with my story, Possibilities, in the Spring 2022 issue. Enjoy your new journey.
Dear Sue – your touch will always remain on Persimmon Tree. Thank you so much for your wisdom, talent, kindness, and soul. I was honored to be published twice (Short Takes) – your editing was helpful, insightful, and gentle. Please take good care in your well -deserved retirement and know how many lives you impacted.
you’ve been wonderful at this, no surprise, old friend! And my recent email from PT called for poetry submissions from West coast, which I’ve never gotten around to, but want to do this time! BUT–the instruction is to submit directly to the Judge — but no email is provided for her, neither in the general announcement nor on the submissions page. Please clue me in — I’d hate to miss this one! Deadline May 18 or 28, I forget — hope i saved that email!
love you — and WOW! How can I not know you are moving? And when will you tell me where?
You did a wonderful job of editing my piece (“Not for Sissies?”) and I am most grateful! It looks from the above comments that I am not alone. All best wishes for your next adventures.
Thank you so much for all your work, for your heart (for both readers and authors), and for the encouragement you’ve brought to our lives. May this next phase of your life be full of endless wonder.
This is a truly wonderful publication because of your hand in it. Thank you so much. Enjoy your new chapter.
Thank you, Sue, for making an oasis for readers and writers alike. Your brave leadership has made women’s voices clearer stronger, richer. You will be missed. Welcome, Margaret. And, again, thank you, Sue.
Thank you so much, and best wishes for your future.
Wishing you truly good times in new tires time [re-tire-ment] … You were always so patient and kind — with humor. FareWELL to a welcoming editor!
Sue, best of luck as you move on to other adventures. I enjoyed working with you when my Short Takes piece “Fragmenting Stories” was accepted by Persimmon. Take care!
It was a real pleasure working with you, Sue, You will be missed, but please enjoy your new free time!
Sue: I was honored to have my short story published in Persimmon Magazine and to have you edit it. You showed me how fine editing could tighten things up and improve a work. I am selfishly sorry you are leaving because I was hoping to learn so much from you. May you enjoy your next project.
Thank you for everything you’ve given to the magazine and to all of us who have contributed to it in various ways. Whatever comes next, I hope it will be sustaining.
Dear Sue, Thank you endlessly for all your help and most of all, your kind and mindful spirit! Chellis
Sue, you have been an inspired and marvelous editor and will be much missed. But here’s to your own next stage! Gratefully, fondly, Wendy
Dear Sue, Wishing you inspired days ahead. It was so delightful working with you on the pieces accepted for publication in PersimmonTree. It has been an honor.
Thank you for all you have done for women in publishing.
It was an honour to be published in Persimmon Tree and to have my words improved by your skillful editing. My best wishes for your retirement.
Sue – I will always remember your kindness and generosity when I submitted my piece about my husband’s death for Short Takes. You wrote that “We just cannot NOT print this, but we think it’s too heavy for Short Takes.” You said you’d like to use it somewhere else, and you did. And I felt honored and so well taken care of. Even through email, your warm and generous spirit came through. Thank you for your support. Good luck in whatever comes next!
Sue, I’m so honored to have my first poem published in this issue, the last one on your watch. It’s been a dream of mine since I discovered Persimmon Tree a couple years ago. As others have mentioned, I admire and appreciate your warmth, wisdom and kindness. Best wishes for whatever comes next for you!
Sue, thanks for all you’ve done to give us crones a voice.
Thank you for your wisdom, elegance, humor and warmth while shepherding us these past years of publishing Persimmon!!!!
Goodbye to you, dear Sue, with so much appreciation for the wisdom, clarity, and great skill you have brought to editing Persimmon Tree during the past ten years. Your commitment to publishing the creative work of women over sixty has been steadfast and strong, and so many have benefited from your support. I am deeply grateful to you for all you have done to make the magazine thrive and grow. And now it’s onward for Persimmon Tree, and a hearty welcome to Margaret, our new editor. We’re glad to have you!
Sue: Again, thank you for accepting my work. Persimmon Tree was the first journal to publish my memoir pieces, and although the publication of “In Our Mother’s Closet” precipitated a break with my much loved sister, I became braver about submitting my work to other journals. Thanks to Persimmon Tree for allowing me to call myself a writer. Best of luck, Sue, and a huge thank you.
Sue, in the short time we’ve been communicating over the exciting acceptance of my poem for the Spring Issue 2022, I’ve been touched by your personal touch. You may be retiring from this editor’s role, but I’m sure that you will never retire your receptivity and kindness. Peace, Jill Evans
Jen! How I would love to check in with you and hear from you what’s happening — in addition to your remarkable son, Oscar — I only get the mom’s quick summary now and again. Missing you both — now that trips to this coast seem no longer required… Will have to call Sue soon for catch up!