Green Hills Literary Lantern

Preface: Dedication to Jack Smith

In the academic world -- and we are an academic journal, the flagship literary annual of a liberal arts university -- it is customary, on the retirement of an esteemed senior colleague, to publish a Festschrift, a "celebration-in-writing."

You’re looking at the 18th issue of GHLL, the second of our cyber-incarnation. It will be the first to carry a dedication. Nearly two decades ago, GHLL was conceived by Dr. Jack Smith, a professor of English and Philosophy at North Central Missouri College, who organized student writers and artists, and somehow marshaled the resources to produce a literary annual of high artistic quality, even if circumstances permitted only a fairly thin volume with indifferent production values – inexpensive paper and simple line-art. I was about to say he made the thing out of whole cloth, as the cliche runs, but the fact is, he created it e nihilo, from nothing, or from his own substance.

Over the years, he built steadily, accumulating reputation in such a way as to draw progressively more resources, including nationally-recognized writers, superb artists and designers, and he created a well-respected book in handsome format, featuring some of the best fiction and poetry published in the United States. That's the hard way to do it, and the right way. GHLL’s writers also publish regularly in first-tier venues; it has always been especially hospitable to first-timers, and many have gone on to big things with a little help from generous Jack Smith.

Eighteen years -- it takes that long to raise a child, as well I know, and even then you don't stop worrying. I expect Jack will go on helping us worry about GHLL for a good while yet. But the kid was brung up right, and is making its way in the world. We know who and what we are. We're not Granta, we're not Ploughshares, we're not Nimrod or the Missouri Review. But friends and neighbors, we're GHLL, a well-regarded journal people are happy to cite on their cv's, and that is entirely Jack's doing.

Jack Smith’s own fiction has appeared in The Southern Review, In Posse Review, The North American Review, and Night Train, among others. In addition, his reviews have been published in The Missouri Review, Pleiades, The Texas Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Georgia Review. He was the co-author of Killing Me Softly: Toxic Waste, Corporate Profit, and the Struggle for Environmental Justice.

A writer, a teacher, a mentor, a skilled and insightful editor whom writers gladly acknowledge as helping them to find their own voices, Jack’s vision has been the shaping force behind GHLL. On the occasion of his retirement, we celebrate his achievement, and thank him for what he’s made for us.

-ABD, Kirksville, June 2007