Elizabeth Karp-Evans interviews John Freeman

Elizabeth Karp-Evans in Guernica:

01-Freemans-coverLast September, I found myself in a packed auditorium at The New School in New York for the launch of Freeman’s, a biannual literary journal conceived by the editor, writer, and critic John Freeman. On the cover of this issue, the names of Anne Carson, Lydia Davis, and Haruki Murakami appeared between newer authors such as Ishion Hutchinson and Laura van den Berg; at the event, Hutchinson’s unassumingly elegant recital of Windfall and van den Berg’s uncontrollably funny reading of The Dog made their places clear among confirmed champions. The launch was spirited, informed, and generous in a uniquely Freeman way. He speaks—often at length—in the enthused yet not overbearing manner of a city organizer or a weekend volunteer encouraging you to vote. It’s no surprise that Freeman has spent most of his career organizing and advocating for some of the most vital literary voices of the last two decades.

“Very little in the world that is interesting happens without risk, movement, and wonder,” Freeman writes in his first letter to the reader. This notion is at once his prevailing professional ideology and personal mantra. Freeman grew up in the Midwest, Long Island, Pennsylvania, and then, California. He has worked at a bank, an advertising agency, as an editor of children’s books, and as president of the National Book Critics Circle. This might account for some of his interest in finding and addressing others of the same pension—those who float on the margins—and his preoccupation with the complexities and contradictions of the social world, specifically in America.

More here.