The Whitefish Review is going through some growing pains.
A recent party at Crush Wine Bar in Whitefish celebrating the eighth collection of art, literature and photograpthy had the bar overflowing with about 200 people, said Brian Schott, founder and editor of the literary journal.
The party, bolstered by appearances from some of the eighth edition’s contributors, is indicative how the Whitefish Review continues to grow since its inception in 2006.
“That was our best event to date. We have our most subscriptions to date. We continue to have record numbers of submissions,” he said.
The journal’s review board received hundreds of submissions for this issue, he said. Only 34 works made it into the journal, including photographs and artwork. Some of the submissions came from other countries, including Iran, but Schott said only North American artists appear in Number Eight.
Some of those artists were present at the Dec. 17 party, reading from their pieces to an appreciative audience. The night began with Montana’s poet laureate, Henry Real Bird, who spent the summer traveling through the state on horseback delivering his poems.
“His presence is amazing,” Schott said.
Whitefish High School senior Stella Holt followed with a reading from her piece in the seventh edition, “Here Among the Mountains.” Local poet and author Cedar Brant also read from her work, as did the review’s poetry editor, Lowell Jaeger.
The evening ended with a special reading from Montana author Rick Bass, who read from his new novel, “Nashville Chrome.” Schott said Bass also expressed favorable sentiments about the depth of the artist community in the Flathead.
“The showing that we had on Friday is a testament to that,” he said.
Other writers in the latest edition include Missoula-based author David Allan Cates, Doug Peacock, Edward Abbey and William Kittredge. Photographers include Bigfork-based Lauren Grabelle, Emma Powell, Jeremie Hollman and C Kjell Petersen, among others.
The eighth edition also contains the relatively new feature, Conversations. In it, Schott records a conversation between two great American West artists, Russell Chatham and Rob Stern. Chatham earned fame as both a lithographer and an author and now lives in Livingston.
Stern, a local artist, co-owns Samarah Fine Art gallery in Whitefish. The conversation takes place as the trio moves throughout the valley, eating and drinking on a recent November night.
The conversation, complete with interruptions and chat with the restaurant wait staff, is a no-holds-barred, intimate look into the lives of the artists, and gets painfully poignant at times as the two chat about their successes and failures.
Chatham’s lithograph, “Valley of the Madison in Winter,” is featured on the cover of the eighth issue. It is still a work in progress, the artist noted.
Another feature in the latest journal is an interview with Hugh Ambrose, son of late historian Stephen E. Ambrose. Hugh Ambrose served as the historical consultant for the HBO miniseries “The Pacific,” and is the author of a non-fiction account of World War II by the same name.
But the Whitefish Review is also experiencing the downside of growing pains. The business side of the literary journal is still a struggle, Schott said, and he plans on stepping back from his editing position and working more on grants for the next issue.
As a 501-c-3 nonprofit, the Whitefish Review does not run advertisements on its pages. The journal’s income is largely based on donor support.
“We’re supported by generous good people that believe in projects like ours,” Schott said. “These days a lot of good projects would never happen without the support of people that want to see it continue.”
The ninth edition of the journal is scheduled to appear in June. The submission period opens on Jan. 15 and runs through March 15.
Future events, which might include an evening with Hugh Ambrose, will most likely have to take place in larger venues, Schott said.
“We were kind of busting at the seams at Crush. Right now we’re trying to figure out what sort of venues make sense for future,” Schott said. “We’re thankful and grateful to the community for the support.”
Copies of the Whitefish Review can be found at The Bookshelf, Rocky Mountain Outfitters, Borders, Bookworks of Whitefish and online at www.whitefishreview.org.
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