A Refuge for the Written World

Publisher Will Hearst reflects on our first year of Alta Journal.

will hearst, publisher, alta
Chris Hardy

Hatchards stands like an enchanted island in the sea of noise.

— Sir Alan Herbert

Alta has now reached its first anniversary, a milestone we celebrate with pride, but also with considerable gratitude and humility. In any event, we will need more than another two centuries before we reach the exalted reputation of Hatchards, the famed London bookstore, still going strong since 1797, as praised by Sir Alan. Nevertheless, we can aspire to those same goals — to create a place of solace and hospitality for lovers of the written word — a locale for readers and writers to gather and to share experience — to reflect, debate and illuminate the issues that recur from decade to decade and that shape the memory of this place where we live, love and endure.

Of course, any publishing venture depends on the people who define the project. I’m pleased to welcome Blaise Zerega to the top of our masthead as our new managing editor. I have known Blaise for many years and have long admired his skill and temperament. He has experience in many dimensions of publishing, ranging from print to video, especially online. He has a great rapport with writers, and other editors, and he knows the innovators and the artists who make the West their home. Please send him your best ideas.

I also want to express my gratitude to Mark Potts, our founding M.E., who did a great job of launching the magazine. It would not have happened without his 24/7 efforts. We hope his award-winning work will continue to appear in the pages of Alta as a contributing editor.

Finally, I am announcing that Glenda Hobbs has become our culture editor. I have known her, and her work, for more than three decades. She has an admirable ability to recruit and nourish new and established writers. I believe her fine judgments and high standards will give our arts coverage the quality we seek and which you expect.

As a college student, I had a professor who was an expert on the Greek epic poems. One of the main points of his lectures about Odysseus was that the hero was motivated continuously by his determination to return home. His adventures were obstacles along the way. Against all odds, he persevered, with that single goal in mind. Odysseus’ Ithaka, according to Prof. John Finley, was a small island, not terribly important in the greater scheme of Greek culture. But it was where he was born, where his people, and family, lived. It was where he belonged and wanted to return.

I am hoping Alta will be such a refuge for our readers. A familiar place, where your friends are already present and where you are always welcomed. An enchanted island in the sea of noise.

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