In this, our fifth year online, we examined Essay Magazine’s relationship with both print and digital media. In years past, our priority had been in print, with a smaller run on our website. However, there are a myriad of ways in which print alone cannot support the growth and change to what is being produced, created, and published by Essay Magazine. And so, we began this year’s publication with questions of change, growth, identity, and tradition. After reviewing past editions and mulling over the publication’s growing potential, the Essay team came to this: the first Pocket Essay, consisting of the Erik Kirkland Memorial Prize winner, the two runners up, and an incredible essay written by this year’s judge, Dr. Billie R. Tadros. A shorter version of Essay, smaller in content and size, allowed for us to prioritize our online presence in a way we had not been able to do in previous editions of Essay Magazine. As creative nonfiction evolves, so too should Essay Magazine.
The essays in our 2023 issue reflect many of the questions we faced at the crux of our decision to transition our focus toward our online presence. Self-examination and questions of truth, identity, change, and growth found home in many of these essays. Whether the questions were exploring one’s relationship with their family and religion in “Childless God,” dissecting one’s handling of family and loss in “Funeral in July,” or examining one’s relationship with identity and sexuality in “Cherry Red,” the essays being published in this year’s edition of Essay Magazine strive towards answers, towards truth, and towards understanding. It is an honor to be involved in their publication and we are especially proud to take strides towards truth with these writers.
That being said, this edition would not be possible without a gathering of helping hands. We thank our incredible advisors, Glen Retief and Hasanthika Sirisena. We thank Tony Zitta and Heather Lang for their unwavering support and assistance. We thank Dr. Billie Tadros for both her stunning 5 Cunningham essay “Run Like an Egyptian: On Race and Races, and Erasure,” and their assistance judging the 2023 Erik Kirkland Memorial Prize. We also thank Sue William Silverman for her patience and her wonderful contribution to the 2022 edition of Essay. We thank our junior editor Emily Harris and our junior design editor Haley Dittbrenner for all they have done and continue to do to ensure Essay Magazine’s success. We thank our copyeditors, our reading board members, and each of our contributors. And we thank you, our reader. Essay Magazine would not be what it is without your infallible support.
We hope you find reassurance and solace in the questions evoked by this year’s edition and enjoy the talent and creativity of these writers just as we have. Finally, we say to you, dear reader: keep asking hard questions, keep reaching for truth, keep trying for growth; in the meantime, we vow to do the same, and you’ll find us here to honor and amplify all that you discover.
Kelsey Diven and Julie Heaney