LETTER- VQR stories diss Genoways

We are writing in response to the recent tragic events at the Virginia Quarterly Review. ["Tale of woe: the death of the VQR's Kevin Morrissey"]

The suicide of Mr. Kevin Morrissey, the managing editor of the magazine, has been painful and heartrending for all who knew him. We mourn his passing and would like to extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. Kevin's service at the magazine was always valuable and productive, despite his lifelong battle with depression. Sadly, on July 30th he made his final and irrevocable choice– a choice we all wish could have been different.

The tragedy of Kevin Morrissey's death has also affected the wider community of VQR. Unable to explain his decision and often guided by their own personal agendas, several individuals related to the case have rushed to conclusions, accusing the editor-in-chief, Ted Genoways, of workplace bullying. Unfortunately, speculative accounts and egregious errors have already found their way into mainstream media outlets, which have been all too eager to generate news without carefully investigating the matter. Suicide is a difficult and complex issue, requiring sensitive analysis.

It is easy to assign blame, but truth demands more than opinions and spontaneous emotion. Both Mr. Morrissey and Mr. Genoways deserve better.

All of the undersigned are contributors to the Virginia Quarterly Review. In our many dealings with Ted Genoways, we have found him to be professional, tactful, and respectful. Under his expert management, and thanks to his excellent interpersonal and communication skills, VQR attracted a loyal community of writers and journalists, of which we are proudly a part. Genoways is the person who turned a previously small and obscure literary quarterly into one of the leading U.S. journals, a winner of the most prestigious national awards and a true model for innovative journalism.

We find it deeply disturbing that the journalistic standards to which we and VQR are committed have not been applied in coverage of these tragic events. We emphatically believe that Genoways and Morrissey deserve a full and impartial investigation from the University of Virginia.

Neil Shea

The letter arrived bearing the names of 30 VQR writers–editor.