On Boulevard’s 100th Issue

One hundred is a kind of magical number equally shunned and celebrated. It’s the number associated with extreme old age but also with total success.

Of course, I was idealistic and somewhat naive when I invited several literary New York friends to discuss my idea for a new magazine in the late summer of 1984. When we first began discussing what kind of literary magazine we wanted Boulevard to be, no one thought that we ever had it 100 percent right. Far from it. The meeting was full of a sound and fury, and no one was really sure what we wanted it to signify. Gradually some principles emerged. We wanted to publish a magazine that attained a balance between so-called “imaginative” writing (i.e., fiction and poetry) and critical reflection (essays). Also, we wanted to publish many different kinds of writing, being mindful of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s dictum “small fish swim in schools.” And we wanted our poetry to make sense. We soon discovered that there was a plethora of poetry out there that made sense and subsequently published everyone from John Ashbery to Albert Goldbarth.

Like people themselves, every piece we’ve run has a story behind it. We are grateful to all of our writers as well as to our readers. But I sense this little tribute to ourselves is beginning to drift towards the endless island of self-congratulation, and we 100 percent don’t want that.

—Richard Burgin, Founding Editor & Publisher

As I sat down to set this issue’s order, I began reflecting on how fortunate it is that No. 100 so perfectly epitomizes Boulevard. Returning contributors like Stephen Dixon and Carl Phillips exemplify the magazine’s history while newcomers like our fiction-contest winner, Caitlin Campbell, and the opener, Weike Wang, illustrate our search for new talent. Boulevard’s ethos has always been to celebrate early career writers in juxtaposition to the established and illustrious. Within these pages we have the debutants, the begun, the mid-career, the established, the celebrated, and the Jane Smiley. Additionally, Boulevard has always valued nonfiction—not only creative nonfiction but also criticism, journalism, and of course, our symposium feature, for which we solicit opinion pieces.

Which brings me to another thing I noticed about No. 100. We have an unofficial theme—immigration. This starts with the symposium; we have, yes, asked a Trump question with responses from immigrants, first- generation writers, and the generationally naturalized. That’s just the start. We included works that directly address immigrants’ experiences, like Ariel Saramandi’s journalistic exposition on Bangladeshis in Mauritius or Chana Kim’s pilgrimage to find the site of her mother’s rape in South Korea, and writing by immigrants from India, Jamaica, Ethiopia, South Korea, Vietnam, and more.

At a different moment, this rich variety of non-American-born writers might not be noticeable. This illustrates how impossible it is—and undesirable—to separate climate from art. I hope, as we move into Boulevard’s next one hundred issues, we continue to encapsulate the present with each issue while continuing our historic dichotomies: the new with the familiar, the beginning with the illustrious, the creative with the critical, and so on.

—Jessica Rogen, Editor