Mid-American Review was started in 1972 by Robert Early, a Professor of Creative Writing at Bowling Green State University, as Itinerary, a publishing format for graduates of Bowling Green State University’s noted Master of Fine Arts program.Itinerary provided early publication credits for such distinguished BG alumni as Carolyn Forche, Charles Fort, Jean Thompson, Tony Ardizzone, Dara Wier, Allen Weir, and many other fine poets, fiction writers, and essayists.
In 1980, tired of publishing themselves over and over again, then-MFA students Scott Cairns and Steve Heller suggested to Robert that they could better use their resources to transform the magazine from an in-house publisher to a journal of international scope. Robert accepted the challenge and created Mid-American Review, offering it, at the same time, as editorial experience for BG’s MFA students. Writers were solicited for the inaugural volume, which features work by such writers as Mark Doty, Cathryn Hankla, Jonathan Holden, David Huddle, T.R. Hummer, A. Poulin, Jr., Richard Russo, and David Wagoner, as well as many new voices. The success of this volume encouraged Robert to continue with the new project, and MAR has been publishing the work of talented contemporary writers ever since.
Time has brought about a few editorial changes to Mid-American Review. Poet and BG alum Ken Letko grabbed hold of the reigns in 1985, while Robert took on the title of Founding Editor, which he retains from his current home in Spain to this day. When Ken left BG for the great Northwest in 1988, he handed the magazine down to poets Wayne Barham and George Looney. Wayne soon left Bowling Green as well, but George Looney remained to serve as Editor-in-Chief for the next ten years. Volume XIX, Number 2, marked his sixteenth and final issue as the magazine’s head of operations.
One of the changes George instituted as an Assistant Editor is the inclusion of a translation chapbook series, giving non-English artists the chance for their work to appear in its native language opposite the English translations. MAR has also known its greatest national success under George, earning commendations from Best American Short Stories, Best American Poetry, The O. Henry Awards, Pushcart, Harper’s Magazine, New Stories from the South, and most recently, Best American Non-Required Reading.
The year 2000 brought with it Mid-American Review’s 20th Anniversary and the magazine marked the milestone with a double issue. Since its inception in 1980, MARhas taken its place as one of the premiere publishing forums in today’s contemporary market, recently publishing work by new writers, as well as those well-known.
Wendell Mayo, Fiction Professor at BG and author of the story collections Centaur of the North, In Lithuanian Wood, and B. Horror and Other Stories, served as Editor-in-Chief for the 20th Anniversary edition. Some of the changes Wendell brought on include our dimensional increase to 6″ X 9″, and the switch to natural-grain paper, helping to make MAR one of the most attractive and professional literary journals.
Issue XXI Number 1 marked the beginning of Michael Czyzniejewski’s tenure at the helm of MAR. Mike further solidified the journal’s place as a publication of national and international standing, building not just on its aesthetic, but also its relationship with writers across the United States and beyond. Karen Craigo, previously the Associate Editor, joined Mike as Co-Editor beginning with the 25th anniversary issues. Number 1 was a celebration of MAR‘s past, printing new work by previous contributors. Issue XXV Number 2 looked to the future, publishing work by writers who had yet to appear in print.
MAR produced another double issue in 2009-2010 to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, also undergoing a few modernizing style changes. In the fall of 2012, Abigail Cloud, Lecturer with BGSU’s Department of English and one of MAR‘s former Associate Editors, became Editor-in-Chief.
After over thirty years MAR continues to strive toward providing a home for work by new and established writers, but also continues to support the literary arts through the Winter Wheat Festival of Writing and involvement as a magazine with the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and Council of Literary Magazines and Presses.