Roger Hodge: Texan, Literary 'Omnivore'

by Kate Knable  on Monday, Sep. 24, 2012 12:00 am  

Roger Hodge (Photo by Russell Powell).

The Texan who’s come to Little Rock by way of New York City wears a ready grin and calls Arkansas novelist Charles Portis “part of my pantheon” of revered writers.

He also doesn’t know Marc Smirnoff.

Roger Hodge is a former editor of Harper’s Magazine in New York and current editor of The Oxford American in Conway.

(Click here to view Arkansas Business' recent video interview with Hodge.) 

He replaced Smirnoff, The OA’s ousted founder and editor, on Sept. 1. Publisher Warwick Sabin and The OA’s board fired Smirnoff in July.

Hodge sidestepped questions about the ex-editor when interviewed last week. However, he was open with his admiration for the 20-year-old national magazine Smirnoff created and repeatedly revived.

“The OA’s always been one of my favorite magazines. I’ve read it carefully and consistently over the years, have always followed it and mourned it when it went out of business and cheered when it came back,” Hodge said. “When Warwick called me and I found out that The OA was in need of an editor, I immediately was interested. The appeal is to edit a great American magazine. And, frankly, there aren’t that many that I would be interested in editing now, but there’s something special about this magazine.”

The OA is a general literary magazine with wide appeal and no direct competition, he said. The quarterly publication has a print circulation of about 55,000.

“I think the reader is an intelligent, literate person who wants to experience stories about this region that has produced so much great writing, so much great art,” Hodge said.  

OA Changes

“It’s hard to say exactly what the changes will be because a lot of the changes will be a matter of me making decisions about assigning, what writers I’m talking to, how I’m going to direct them,” Hodge said. “When an editor takes over a magazine, he has to — or she has to — enter into a conversation with the traditions of the magazine and the way things have been done before. So that’s a process I’m engaged in, and something new will result from that interaction.”

He plans to make the magazine’s format more consistent than in the past. “I think you want creative chaos in a publication, but you also want structure so readers know where to find things,” he said.



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