Professor Mitchell Wieland stepped down as editor of The Idaho Review. The literary journal, which Wieland founded over 20 years ago, is published by the Creative Writing MFA program at Boise State University. Mary Pauline Lowry, an alum of the Creative Writing MFA program at Boise State and a lecturer in fiction for the Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing, will serve as guest editor for the 2022-23 academic year.
For Wieland, literary journals have long been a passion. “Literary journals are, of course, a true labor of love,” Wieland wrote in an Editor’s Note for Issue 14. “Ours is no different.” As an MFA fiction student at the University of Alabama, Wieland worked on The Black Warrior Review, which ignited his love for editing and publishing and became a model for The Idaho Review. Anthony Doerr, the author of the best-selling novels “Cloud Cuckoo Land” and “All the Light We Cannot See,” which won the Pulitzer Prize, said of Wieland: “In an era when print journals were folding left and right, Mitch assembled, sustained, and elevated The Idaho Review from sheer force of will.”
Following the model of The Black Warrior Review, Wieland designed The Idaho Review as a student-led publication. He created and taught a creative writing course, Literary Journal Editing and Publishing, which gave students the chance to serve as the editorial staff for The Idaho Review.
“Mitch exposed countless MFA students to the rigors and joys of editing, and gave them the invaluable experience of […] introducing them to working writers,” Doerr said. “Getting to work with Mitch on my own fiction was a great honor.”
A rich legacy
Over the twenty issues that Wieland edited, sixteen stories earned reprint in prestigious national prize anthologies, including “The Best American Short Stories,” “The O. Henry Prize Stories,” “The Pushcart Prize,” “The Best Small Fictions,” “New Stories from the South,” and “Best of the West.”
During his tenure, Wieland published work by many acclaimed authors, including the first published story by Jennifer Haigh, the award-winning novelist and short story writer. Wieland also published exceptional stories by Joy Williams, Percival Everett, Andrea Barrett, Edith Perlman, Ben Percy, Ann Beattie, Stuart Dybek and Kali Fajardo-Anstine, among many others.
As editor, Wieland championed both established masters and new voices, giving many up-and-coming writers their first major literary publication.
“I was so happy when [my story] found a home with Mitch and The Idaho Review,” said novelist Elizabeth Gonzalez James, whose story “Children of a Careless God” appeared in Issue 18. “Championing new and original voices is something that a lot of editors say they want to do, but it’s another thing entirely to take a chance and actually do it.”
Wieland found great satisfaction working with over 300 authors during his time as editor.
“After all this time, I have never gotten over the incredible rush of finding something magical among the thousands of submissions we receive,” Wieland said. “When I started the journal, I was asked if we really needed a new literary journal. I said I thought it couldn’t hurt. Now more than ever, I believe we need the wisdom, insight, and solace writers can offer us. I salute all the editors who make literary journals a vibrant part of our daily lives.”
A new chapter
Mary Pauline Lowry, a novelist who serves as guest editor for The Idaho Review for the 2022-2023 academic year, had the unique experience of studying with Wieland while she earned her MFA in fiction at Boise State University.
“Part of the reason I applied to the MFA was that I wanted a chance to work on The Idaho Review,” Lowry said. “My favorite part of the process was the round tables Mitch hosted, allowing for us to have a lively debate about the stories we loved. As someone who has been obsessed with literature all my life, joining a space where other people cared as much as I did about stories was like coming home.”
As guest editor, Lowry plans to continue to run the journal in the spirit in which Wieland founded it, as a place for both established writers and new voices, and as a pillar of the literary publishing community.
“Mitch’s dedication to the literary community is an inspiration. I’m incredibly grateful for all he taught me,” she said. “I am beyond honored that Mitch gave me the opportunity to help take The Idaho Review into its next phase. The only reason I’m not too intimidated to accept the challenge is because Mitch will still be providing me with his expert guidance and sharing his experience, strength and hope.”