Everything about the Whitefish Review is palpably pine-scented and mountainy. The offices of the literary journal’s Montana offices resemble the inside of a fishing lodge. During a recent interview there, coeditor Ryan Friel ’93 sipped his local Wheatfish beer. A few steps out the door there is a view of majestic mountains.
And then, of course, there is the journal itself, born and raised in the mountains—with a heritage that extends to Mayflower Hill.
Friel, Mike Powers ’93, and Lyndsay Griffiths Schott ’95, along with Brian Schott, are among the editors who run Whitefish Review. A journal of art, literature, and photography, it recently put out its 10th edition and celebrated five years of existence.
The magazine acts as a social connector in the small community of Whitefish, Mont., population 6,400. Each edition is celebrated with a release party held in a local wine bar, and perusing the donor list in the beginning of each issue is an object lesson in getting everyone you know to contribute to your magazine.
Past issues show a journal with a sense of place: a black-and-white fish icon runs at the top of each contribution, and the same fish appears on the cover with the legend, “Illumination from the mountains.” Half the contributors for the current issue list Montana as their residence.
Despite laboring intensively for the magazine (sometimes working 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. to get things done), only two of the principals are writers: Friel and Brian Schott. And they all have day jobs. Lyndsay Schott is a bookkeeper and massage therapist, Friel is a city council member who runs a fly-fishing lodge and works for the National Ski Patrol, and Powers works in insurance sales and adjusting.
“It’s a way to keep art and literature in our lives,” Powers said.
At Colby they were similarly eclectic, majoring in political science (Friel), English (Powers), and biology (Schott). “Our different backgrounds give our group its depth and keep this project interesting,” Schott said. One thing they have in common is love for their community, chosen one night in the Spa as they discussed where to live after graduation. (Whitefish prevailed over Jackson Hole.)
In its five years the magazine has published more than 300 different voices. “We’re trying to bring the arts to those who might not gravitate toward a literary journal. Think of it as Paris Review meets Outside magazine,” Schott said. She points out that Whitefish Review publishes interviews with people outside the arts world, like former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe, professional kayaker Brad Ludden, and extreme skier Scot Schmidt.
The editors also take pride in the fact that they give first-time writers a shot—along with drawing in powerhouses like John Irving and Terry Tempest Williams. “One-hundred percent of the artists and authors we reached out to have agreed to provide work,” Powers said. In a recent issue, a local ninth-grader’s writing was published alongside that of Tom Brokaw.
Said Friel, “We consider what we’re doing to be a magazine with a slant toward mountain culture. Our mission is to embrace all types of work as long as it gives you pause.”
Whitefish Review welcomes submissions of art, photography, and literature. Upcoming issue number 10 contains a piece by Christy Everett ’94. More at www.whitefishreview.org. Erika Mailman’91 is the author of two historical novels and can be found at www.erikamailman.com.