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.