Rockford, Illinois. After thirty-one years at Chronicles Magazine—thirty of them as editor—classicist, poet and polemicist Tom Fleming has retired.
During his tenure at this small but influential magazine of the paleoconservative right, which was founded by Polish emigre Leopold Tyrmand but turned into a real magazine by Tom, he published political and social commentators that varied from the Agrarian-minded Mel Bradford to the analyst of power that was Sam Francis, to the more humorous libertarian Bill Kauffman. He also published many men of letters: Wendell Berry, John Lukacs, George Garrett, Jorge Luis Borges, Andrew Lytle, Walker Percy, and Russell Kirk, to name a few.
In recent years the magazine’s readers have enjoyed regular contributions from Clyde Wilson, James O. Tate, Philip Jenkins, Roger McGrath, George McCartney, Frank Brownlow, Claude Polin and several others—a solid group who made the magazine interesting. Former Chronicles senior editor for books Chilton Williamson, whom Tom hired away from National Review in 1989, succeeds him.
Tom’s legacy will be, first, a publication that was willing to put its editorial hand on “third rail” political topics (such as massive immigration) when other magazines simply ducked. Anyone really interested in free political speech, be you on the right or left, should appreciate his courage. Secondly, he created a political magazine that was interested in the wider culture and in art, in way many political journals and sites are not, or not seriously. To give one example: the poetry published under Tom’s tenure (edited in recent years by poetry editor Catharine Savage Brosman) has been uniformly good—making the magazine the only one in America guilty of that.
Tom’s Chronicles never made the mistake of thinking politics was the sum of life, or even its center. It has been “a magazine of American culture,” and one that has been willing to celebrate what we can in this late Roman age of ours.
Though he will continue to write for the magazine, Tom has his own site at www.fleming.foundation, where he has already begun blogging. I’m told another book of social criticism is in the works, and I hope he will find a publisher for his own excellent poems. Good luck and Godspeed to him.