College of Charleston’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing Program hosts a professionalization series to invite graduate students to engage with writers and editors currently working in the field. Thanks to a generous gift from an anonymous alumni donor, current students gathered at the Blacklock House on Thursday, April 11, 2019, to learn from the new editor of The Paris Review Emily Nemens.

Emily Nemens, editor of ‘The Paris Review,’ talks with Emily Rosko, director of the MFA Creative Writing Program. (Photos by Taylor Krauser)

The Paris Review is a famed literary magazine started in 1953 by celebrated writers Harold L. Humes, Peter Matthiessen and George Plimpton. The publication provides a chance at wide circulation for unknown talents and offers insights into the literary world’s greatest minds like Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Robert Frost and Vladimir Nabokov.

Nemens is the fifth editor in the history of The Paris Review. She studied art history and studio art at Brown University and earned her creative writing degree from Louisiana State University. She edited the literary magazine The Southern Review for seven years before moving to her current position.

“It was absolutely wonderful to have Emily Nemens here on campus interacting with our MFA students,” says Director of the MFA Program Emily Rosko. “They were completely enthralled by Nemens – for one, she is a young woman (not all that much older than them), and she is incredibly poised and knowledgeable, yet completely down-to-earth and approachable.”

Nemens spoke to students about her background and how she plans to take The Paris Review, a 66-year-old publication, into the digital age through discovery and delight. She also answered questions from students on how to get published. Nemens told the group to always be looking for adjacent opportunities and to “always ask for more.” She reads through hundreds of writing submissions each month, giving hope to the group that, even if they are unpublished, there’s always a chance to express themselves to an audience.

“Students were eager to hear about her editorial process – how she selects stories to feature and publish,” says Rosko. “I also think students were completely impressed that she asked them about their writing and their creative theses and if they are sending their work out to literary journals; they certainly were not expecting that! It was quite a remarkable evening.”

Featured image: Emily Nemens talks with MFA students during an event on April 11, 2019.