There’s a new editor-in-chief at Baltimore Style magazine and it’s our own Betsy Boyd. Writer, teacher, mother (of toddler twins!), Betsy, 42, was recently named to head up the magazine after working there as freelance senior editor for the past year. Her first issue will come in January. She’ll continue with the Baltimore Fishbowl as literary editor.
Betsy and I have worked closely together for over a decade, first on the magazine PaperDoll, and then on Baltimore Fishbowl (and we co-wrote a script about classism and racism in Baltimore between those two gigs).
A native of San Antonio, Texas, Betsy earned her BA from Brown University and her MFA in screenwriting from the University of Texas as a James Michener Writing Fellow. After a short stint in Los Angeles writing for the screen (her feature script was optioned and she wrote a children’s television special) and performing sketch comedy, Betsy decided to study fiction and came to Baltimore to earn her master’s in creative writing at Johns Hopkins where she was an Elliott Coleman fellow. A true writer’s writer, she has spent her time post-graduate school, working on her fiction, freelancing, teaching writing — she is currently an assistant professor at the University of Baltimore — collaborating with other writers and promoting, praising and pushing writing. It was her idea to include regular creative nonfiction features on Baltimore Fishbowl (see My Real Life Modern Family), and we can all thank Betsy for convincing Marion Winik to write Bohemian Rhapsody for us. Betsy is the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council award and residencies through Fundación Valparaíso, the Alfred and Trafford Klots International Program for Artists and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. Her short story “Scarecrow” received a Pushcart Prize in 2009.
“What’s exciting about having Betsy take over is her creativity, her broad-based connections to the city, her unique flair. I think she is going to take the magazine in a different direction, but not in a radically different direction. Readers can expect more engaging and entertaining content,” says Josh Runyan, editorial director at Mid-Atlantic Media, which owns Style. “I expect Baltimore Style to be in the category of Vanity Fair,” he adds.
The company owns The Baltimore Jewish Times, Smart Shopper, Baltimore’s Child and Washington Jewish Week. From the start, Style has focused on fashion, food, interior design, and travel, and while Betsy likes those topics as much as the next gal, her editorial style is more David Remnick than Tina Brown. Perhaps we should expect New Yorker meets Vanity Fair meets Baltimore? Sounds good to me.
All of us at Baltimore Fishbowl couldn’t be happier for our old friend and look forward to seeing Style grow under her watch. She gives us the scoop on what’s next for the magazine.
How do you plan to change Style? I’m interested to honor the time-tested brand that Style has created over 26 years: of course, we write about fashion, design, culture, city life, via a local lens–but I want to lend a more literary voice and vision to the magazine. In a way, I want to be your fun, funky professor on the editor job–teaching, sharing, injecting enthusiasm for our storied region and its coolest players. I want to talk about the personality of our people and our place. For example, our Back Page will now feature six questions for a locally relevant person. It’s called Reality Star. Why? If you’re doing intriguing and valuable work, I definitely consider you a reality star. Our first subject was super cool Sammy Hoi, MICA president. But I’d also love to interview a bus driver down the line, an amazing dog groomer, a near-psychic weatherman. I’ll also aim to publish more think pieces–articles that don’t shy away from controversy–and more regular personal essays as opposed to set columns that may become too familiar each issue. In January, I’m publishing poetry by four of my favorite local writers. And we’ll do a reading at the Ivy. Look for more events under my watch. Look for music writing to come too! And in a few months an overall redesign.
What about staff changes? My husband Michael Yockel will be my senior editor, which is so wonderful. He was the editor of City Paper in the 90s, and he’s my top-favorite writer… I’m biased, but he’s a badass. I’m going to tap the best freelancers around for ideas and assignments.
Any new features we can look forward to? I’m excited about so many, a feature by Michael Yockel about kids learning a second language in Baltimore–how are they pulling this off? Are schools striving harder/reaching new language goals in this global economy? And a feature about women who fly by reporter Melissa Gerr–looking at fierce female pilots across a range of ages and backgrounds. And a house story from Severna Park that blows my mind the decor is so artful. Lisa Sokol (who worked at PaperDoll with us) and Sarah Griswold Johnson are the decorators… The home is like a painting you get to live inside.
Will you continue to teach at UB? I will! I love to teach and I’m eager to keep working with young emerging writers in both my school and work realm. Both parties are helping me balance the two gigs, which is lovely. I’ll also continue to edit monthly memoir writing for Baltimore Fishbowl, a rewarding thing–we’ve posted many UB students’ first published work. And I think it’s great how the three jobs interact in terms of writing and idea-churning and networking…