Editor-in-chief prepares to leave the building.
Now is the moment for reflection, gratitude, and farewells. Not that I am going away or anyone else connected with the magazine for that matter. It’s just that we won’t appear again in quite this form. (And I am going to sell the white horse, which has started to attract attention.)
The magazine started with a group of friends feeling outsiderish and piratical, and it has persisted in that light, though the names have gradually changed over time. There are 40 people on the masthead today; the list of artists and writers who have appeared in the magazine could fill a small town; and then there are our readers, most of whom we will never know, though some, in keeping with our policy, have become writers for the magazine and friends.
The fact that we got so big and lasted so long (on fumes) is miraculous.
It would be invidious to single out individuals, but there are some who by their intelligence and loyalty have altered my thin view of the human race. And others whose sheer bloody-minded willingness to throw their support behind an upstart magazine and persist have taught me something about the nature of friendship and the value of art. I will never forget the decency, kindness and camaraderie that have characterized NC’s inner workings. You are an astonishing tribe. I am eternally grateful.
My sons grew to adults under the sign of Numéro Cinq (while my dog — the blue dog of NC fame — grew ancient and incontinent). It was ever a topic of dinner table conversation (Mission Control has always been in the bedroom, where my laptop lives). Jonah designed the logo. Jacob still reads with the analytic eye he learned writing reviews for the magazine.
Now the feeling around here is distinctly autumnal, and I am a bit anxious about what I am going to do with myself when I don’t have to get up in the morning and attend to the magazine chores.
As for the site, it will remain live as a monument to us all. All your work, the archives, the special features and anthologies, will be available. Possibly, I will post in the NC Blog now and then on matters relating to the magazine. I’ve been using the “Out & Back” blog category as my personal blog; I might have to sort that out (or not).
There are going to be loose ends. Story of my life.
A few issues back I mentioned a speech from Ingmar Bergman’s film Fanny and Alexander that seemed to capture the feeling. It’s very early in the film. Oscar Ekdahl is making his annual speech to the cast after the Christmas pageant in the little family-owned theatre.
Dear friends, dear fellow workers, dear family! For twenty-two years I have stood here and made a speech. I am not really any good at this sort of thing. My only talent, if you can call it a talent in my case, is that I love this little world inside the thick walls of this playhouse. And I’m fond of the people who work in this little world. Outside is the big world, and sometimes the little world succeeds for a moment in reflecting the big world, so that we understand it better. Or is it perhaps that we give the people who come here the chance of forgetting for a while, forgetting for a while the harsh world outside. Our theatre is a small room of orderliness, routine, conscientiousness, and love. I don’t know why I am so awfully moved today of all days. I feel so comically solemn. I can’t explain how I feel. I had better be brief.
(He shakes his head, raises his glass, and looks at the people gathered around him.)
oh my, I will miss your piraticality. thank you for NC.
Thank you, Susan. I am so grateful to you for signing on as poetry editor. A Golden Age of Poetry at NC began at that moment.
Thank you Douglas, and to all of your cohorts, for this wonderful magazine, and for all of your hard work.
I also want to thank you for reaching out to me when I joined the faculty at the VCFA MFA Music Composition program, and inviting me to submit my music and the stories that accompany them, it was thrilling to be a part of NC! I wish you and everyone connected to NC all the best in all of your endeavors.
Thanks, Diane. We ended up with a nice music page and a regular music writer, Carolyn Ogburn. But it started with you.
Thanks, Doug, for all your creativity, hard work, and encouragement. NC has been a wonderful collective and individual experience. Keep writing, keep blogging, and, whatever you do, DON’T sell that white horse. The way things are going in “the big world,” we may need someone on horseback.
Pat, You’re the best. You came in so early and stayed to the end and the work you wrote for us could fill at least a couple of books. I’ve always been grateful. Okay, I’ll keep the horse.
So glad Pat convinced you so easily to keep the horse. Can we have a party of all the contributors and people on the masthead and the horse and all? My house.
Wouldn’t that be something? Everyone together?
Oh, Douglas. It’s been one of the great pleasures of my working life to have you as an editor, and the wondrous NC as my tribe. The magazine will stand as testimony to your vision, your kindness, your critical understanding and your sheer bloody brilliance. When you get up in the morning and feel uncertain, then remember we all just want to read more from you. Or at least I do, and I’m feeling grandiose (and on a pretty sure thing, here).
Victoria, You fit into the tribe with such aplomb. One of my regrets at stopping is that I will miss the wondrous surprise of a new Victoria Best text. As an editor, I am not sure what I ever did for you. 🙂 Rest assured, I will be sending to you for moral support in the weeks to come. You’ll get tired of me. You’ll say, Oh go start another magazine then.
Thank you, Glover. It has been more than a pleasure. I couldn’t understand how you found the time to keep this going while maintaining such quality (of course with the co-conspirators). I haven’t been following lately due to eyesight but the headline here — that’s clickbait for sure. Happy trails.
Diane, So lovely to hear from you but saddened about your eye sight. It was iffy even when you were writing so much for the magazine. I have missed you. You gave us so much energy and, yes, conscience.
Oh, dear. We will miss your sassy, ironic humor after all these years. And your superb editors and contributors, will they carry on without you? It’s not clear from your missive.
And I wanted to send you personally a ten-minute (8-page) play about Elizabeth Bishop in Key West in honor of NC’s recent discussion of Megan Marshall’s bio, or at least my comments on the excellent review. But maybe I should anyway. And where did Nume’ro Cinq gets its name, anyway?
Malcolm, Lovely to hear from you. In answer to question #1, we did discuss (senior editors and managing editor) the possibility of someone else carrying the magazine forward. But two things told against it. One, it’s too much work. Two, as you suggest, the magazine is in many ways tied up with my voice, and it was thought that that might be too difficult to replicate. Most of us had a sense that the time had come, that we might push on to other things.
#2, The name of the magazine is explained on the ABOUT page. It comes from one of my short stories and refers to an imaginary terrorist cell.
And, yes, please leave a comment on Julie Larios’s review of the Elizabeth Bishop book.
So many people in my circle of friends and contacts have expressed their sadness that Numéro Cinq is coming to a close (not without respecting the decision of course). Thank you once again for giving me a chance (and really teaching me what I know about writing critical reviews). Every time I am stumbling toward a deadline I will know who to blame, I mean… thank. Hope to meet up for coffee—or something stronger—when you are in the neighbourhood this fall.
Joe, If I can take the blame for the way you write about books, then I have done a good job. It’s been a huge pleasure working with you and to have my early intuitions proved correct. I’m still going through Calgary in October. I’ll let you know when.
I’m one of your NC readers you don’t know, so, just to say, au revoir, and you certainly will be missed.
Very nice to meet you, Miriam. It’s really nice of you to materialize, even at the end. Thank you.
Dear Douglas, I only just recently discovered you and now you’re disappearing! I’m very sad to hear that and hope all these years of treasures will remain accessible so I can catch up. Have a glorious, creative future!
Kristin in Tokyo
Thank you, Kristin. Wish we had gotten to know you. Perhaps in another life.
Well, Doug, you’ve got a lot of people–like me–feeling sad today. Thanks for all the energy and creativity you put into the magazine. It’s been a blast.
Bob, Thank you. It’s nice to know we’ll be missed. But it’s a good thing. I was just out for a long walk with the dogs, not feeling sad but reflective and satisfied, remembering this incident or that, the jokes and laughter, the moments of discovery. It’s been a lovely adventure and I was honoured to feature your poems.
So sad to see this day come. I have enjoyed every single word. Love to all of you who made this happen. Nice work, Doug. Keep us up on what’s next.
Ah, thank you, Frances. I have always known you were out there, interested. Much appreciated.
When you get up in the morning, Doug, you’re allowed one brief moment of confusion about what you will do without NC entanglements to untangle. Then you will take a walk with the dogs, read from the stack of books you’ve postponed because you were too busy, write some letters, breathe easier, walk around the house you live in, notice new growth, do some weeding, drive the long way out to the farm with your windows rolled down and the radio playing, drive back singing all the way, give someone an extra hug before bed, do what people do when they are not quite as overloaded or weighed down (granted, with NC it’s been heady and intelligent stuff; still, overloaded.) Being under-loaded is good. It takes fresh air, it takes lungs. It takes the body instead of the head. Go outside, look at the moon tonight, howl a little, watch for shooting stars. I know, that’s corny. But you can even be corny if you’re not tired.
I’ll miss NC. And I’m so grateful to you for the opportunities to contribute to it. I hope we can stay in touch. My house out here on the western edge of the continent is yours whenever you’re out this way.. But go on now, go outside, look up at the sky, Lots of beauty all around, so be un-busy with it. Enjoy it. I’m sending a hug.
Ah, Julie. I love to talk to you. It always sets me straight and calms me down. Fellow feeling. You had a wonderful run on NC, just the best person to talk about poetry, to relish the line and the life behind it. I don’t know what I’d have done without you (torn my hair out looking for someone just like you, I guess). And, as a matter of fact, I did take the dogs out for a long walk earlier. We’ll keep in touch for sure.
P.S. Hi-h, Silver – AWAY!
You deserve at least a thousand curtain calls and unlimited shouts of Bravo! Congrats on a great run. (And how much do you want for the horse?)
David, Thank you. That means a lot. (I mean your willingness to take the horse. I’ll UPS him to you COD.) I am glad the magazine found some readers and helped some writers along their way.
I will miss this warm place on a cruel web. And I hope very much to see more Out & Back posts. It’s like having a conversation with you, always, historically, a wonderful adventure. So, please keep the posts up, if you can. I think many people will agree with me. Or, at least I’ll try my best to convince you that they will.
Congratulations and much gratitude to you for advancing the cause of erudition. The best antidote for the cruel web and these times.
Robin, Thank you.
It was you who invented the phrase “a warm place on a cruel web.” I remember. 🙂 All the posts will stay live. That’s always been my plan.
Ah, I expressed myself badly: What I meant was, I hope that you continue to post in your Out & Back blog. More adventures with Mr. Glover.
We’ll see. Perhaps my naturally reclusive bent will assert itself. Or not. But you and I will be in touch.
Thank you, Doug. I’ve been so very grateful for NC over the years. I remember the very first “issue.” It’s nice to know I can go back in and catch up on the content I have missed. Be well!
Jodi, We came a long way over the years as you can attest. Thank you for following our progress. No doubt you also remember some of our very strange, experimental design decisions. 🙂
“Reflective and satisfied” and not sad is a very good place to be. You’re right DG. Still, this made me cry. As consolation I’ll focus on what will come next for you and the rest of the NC team. What you all have accomplished these many years is a stunning accomplishment. I’m glad the archives will remain available.
Thank you, Sophfronia>
I got the invite to submit something after hosting your reading, drinking beers at the Laundromat (with KLP too), belching out Laszlo Krasznahorkai, and safely delivering you to your hotel. I think that was pretty much the official NC ‘how to submit’. Thanks for everything, Doug.
All of the above indicating that you are a writer of significant talents and worthy of an invitation. 🙂
Thanks for empowering us to write, to read, to be better. Miss you, Doug.
Thank you, Kate.
Doug, you’ve done an amazing job at the Cinq, which I’m Sooooo going to miss. Thanks for all your work. Amazing treats in every issue.
Thank you, Nance. One of our faithful Shield Lords. Smooches.
Oh, that it’s the end is hard to believe… I remember the beginning. What a world you created inside these walls. And I’m terribly fond of the people here as well. All these years, it’s been comforting to know I could find you here. Glad the site and all its treasures will remain. Hope you’re well and gearing up for something wonderful. xo
Many thanks, Cynthia. You’ve been around since inception.
Doug, I’m a bit late in adding my voice to the chorus of those thanking you for making NC possible, interesting every month, and a capacious, encouraging home for long form works that were fun, exciting, and much else to read. You did art and literature and music a tremendous service in these “pages.” On a more personal note, you were a fine editor who helped me improve, and a gentleman in our correspondence who showed genuine care for others. Be well, and rest up from the Herculean labours. Keep the horse, though, you may suddenly need to get across the northern border in an unorthodox way. ;~]
Ah, Jeff, thank you. It means a lot to have your words up on the site. We had a lovely ride together. Your influence was stupendous.
I was thrilled to be a part of your very creative, thoughtful, and provocative tribe of outsiders. Your kindness, generosity, and above all, openness to new forms of art and literature is and will remain an inspiration for all of us. I fervently wish that there were more people with your vision in the art and literary worlds; those with the insight and integrity willing to offer overlooked artists and writers of note a chance to contribute something to the cultural dialogue. Thank you, Doug.
Many thanks, Paul. It was a privilege to work with you and exhibit your art.
Doug! Not sure how I missed this, but what an epic and important project, to say the least. I remember there was still a hint of uncertainty around digital in 2010, and it was great to tinker and grapple with that from the inside. I was fortunate to have been a part of NC in various capacities, so thanks for your vision and tenacity, and for giving many of us a chance to contribute, hone our skills, understand, and explore–I remain grateful that you entrusted me with the privilege.