Bar News - October 5, 2007
NH Attorney Founds Literary Magazine
By: Beverly Rorick
Long before she became a lawyer, Elizabeth (Libby) Hodges was writing and publishing short stories and poems. She has a Master of Arts degree in Writing from Hollins College, Roanoke, Virginia.
“But it’s very hard to make a living as a writer,” she told Bar News, “so I decided to become a lawyer.” Hodges is a 1986 graduate of Franklin Pierce Law School; she joined the NH Bar that same year.
“I worked for Orr & Reno, then became legal counsel for the Administrative Office of the Courts—and after that, deputy general counsel to the Supreme Court.”
She believes that the most interesting part of her work at the Court involved the Vologda Rule of Law program, which established exchange visits between judges from Russia and judges from New Hampshire. Hodges traveled to Russia several times herself as part of the program and in 2003 edited an international issue of the NH Bar Journal. Her experiences in Russia were to have a deep and lasting effect on her life.
“I left the Court in 2004,” said Hodges. During the following two years, she was plagued by serious health problems. “During that time, I had a lot of time to read—and I started writing again, too.”
What Hodges missed most about leaving the Court was the “Russian experience.” Eventually she decided to apply to attend the Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) in St. Petersburg, Russia, combining her love of Russia with her love of writing. The seminars are held during the period of the “white nights” of summer, a time when there is very little darkness because of the far-northern location of St. Petersburg.
For the last three years, Hodges has been giving lectures at the summer seminars on the Russian Constitution, discussing it as a document and how it is like and how it is different from the U.S. Constitution. In January of 2006, she was appointed to the board of directors of SLS.
A literary journal is born.
Somehow her most recent project, the St. Petersburg Review, just seemed the natural outgrowth of her love of writing and her love of Russia. The idea of a Russian/American literary journal came to her “like a light turning on,” she said. “It would be a culturally diverse magazine growing out of the St. Petersburg seminars.”
The idea was enthusiastically received by the directors of SLS. Hodges had edited a literary tabloid in Cambridge in the 70s and she brought her experience in publishing to the St. Petersburg project. She raised the initial monies through private donations—although she hopes for grant support for future issues.
“We’ve designed the magazine to have approximately 50 percent of its submissions in translation from non-American writers. We’re also striving for other cultural diversity, such as around 50 percent of our material to come from women, as we feel they have been under-represented in literary journals in general.”
The St. Petersburg Review is in bookstores now. Gibson’s in Concord stocks it—and the Toadstool bookshops around the state carry it, also. A special section of this first issue features both prose and poetry from women prisoners of the GULAG, many of them now deceased, published in English for the first time. (See below.)
“At present we are accepting submissions (and donations!) for our 2008 issue,” said Hodges. Writers interested in submitting either prose or poetry can find submission guidelines online at http://www.stpetersburgreview.com/.