Skip to content
The White Review #21
Magazine of the week

The White Review #21

The White Review has never cared for cover lines. In its previous 20 issues, the quarterly magazine has always resisted temptation to boast about the subjects and themes that feature inside. Issue 21 goes a step further.

For the first time in The White Review’s seven-year history, not a glimmer of text features on its front cover. True to form, there is not a cover line in sight, but there is also no magazine title. Instead, it is filled by a single artwork (in this case by Ellen de Meutter).

The back cover yields: the magazine’s title is positioned as you would expect (albeit on the back) and articles are listed as if it were a contents page. It is pleasingly matter-of-fact: there is no clever copywriting or pithy language, just the bare facts. Crucially, however, this back cover can only been seen when the reader picks the magazine off the shelf. Stripping the title of its immediate identity is bold; it’s down to one artwork alone to entice.

This drastic change is the first clue of the magazine’s redesign (overseen by Thomas Swann) and the latest tangible change in ‘an exciting new era’ for The White Review. In October 2017, founding editors Benjamin Eastham and Jacques Testard – once described by The Guardian as ‘a New York intern and a London journalist’ that ‘drunkenly decided to launch a literary periodical’ – handed editorship over to Željka Marošević and Francesca Wade. Marošević and Wade are respected names on the literacy circuit: Marošević the co-publisher of Daunt Books and Wade an accomplished writer.

The redesign is loyal to previous art director Ray O’Meara’s lean, bookish, aesthetic but introduces a new typeface and takes advantage of the more flexible range of grid options offered by the slightly larger format.

In the six months since being handed the reigns, Marošević and Wade have worked to reimagine the arts and literary title in multiple dimensions. They have launched an anthology of the magazine’s history, founded a poet’s prize and are in the process of planning events across the UK. The greatest change prior to the magazine’s re-design had been raising more than £11,500 to commission book and exhibition reviews for its website.

The aim is to buck two trends: the paucity of art criticism in UK broadsheets and journalists that write for little or no remuneration. In providing reviews that are accessible to all via its website, The White Review also hopes to open up literary and arts criticism to a wider audience. This focus on accessibility is further reflected in a slightly reduced magazine price – now costing £12.99 instead of £14.99.

The White Review 21 is not short of the type of features that gave the magazine its initial acclaim. Poet Claudia Rankine discusses race in America, literary form, and the relationship between poetry and national emergency. Also featured is an essay on Chelsea Manning (above) and the ethical implications of visual representations of prisoners, and a piece that explores writing and pregnancy. As before, a shift to a coated paper stock announces visual content, in this example a series of paintings by Iranian artist Sanam Khatabi (below).

Issue 21 undoubtably makes a bold statement; an already successful project has made a brave directional move. For this reason it is our latest Magazine of the Week. From now on, expect a more courageous, more accessible and multi-dimensional White Review.

Previous post 21.03.18
Next post Same Old #24