History & Mission

In 1977, Donna Gerstenberger, the first Editor of The Seattle Review and then Chairperson of the English Department at the University of Washington, founded The Seattle Review as a gesture of faith: in writers, in readers, and in the role a “reasonable and productive” literary journal might play in bringing them together. She envisioned a national publication that would honor fiction and poetry equally.

Seattle, then as now, was a center of excellence in the literary arts. Gerstenberger turned to Charles Johnson as the first Fiction Editor and Nelson Bentley as the first Poetry Editor. William Matthews contributed the journal’s unassuming hyponym. Early issues of The Seattle Review published work by luminaries Denise Levertov, Tess Gallagher, William Stafford, and David Wagoner.

For the last two decades, Colleen J. McElroy has stewarded The Seattle Review, first as Poetry Editor, then as Editor-in-Chief. The Seattle Review has grown into a handsome, full-color, perfect bound publication, appearing twice a year with an international selection of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and visual art. Some of the writers recently published include Sharon Olds, Diane Wakoski, Al Young, Carolyn Kizer, Marilyn Hacker, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Grace Paley.

The Seattle Review awards the Editor’s Choice Prize in Nonfiction, the Nelson Bentley Prize in Fiction and Poetry, and the Perry Lee and Ann Belle Prize for the best work published in its pages the preceding year. Recently, The Seattle Review Annual Fiction and Poetry Contest was established as an open contest by submission and to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Seattle Review, the University of Washington Press published an anthology Page to Page: Retrospectives from The Seattle Review. This tribute offers readers the opportunity to look back over many of their favorite issues.  Most recently, Andrew Feld has assumed the role of Editor-in-Chief and he is committed to making The Seattle Review a journal with a local as well as national presence.

Throughout our history and our growth, we have kept our faith in the common and uncommon word. We invite you to share that faith.