What a 30 Year Old Book can Teach a 17 Year Old

Maddie 30th Anniversary PictureOur literary magazine, Elan has been around for 30 years, almost two of me. I imagine that through the years, with the many different staff members, editors, teachers, and readers, that this book has learned a few things. When I first came on staff and took on the position of Junior Poetry Editor, I went back through some of the older editions of Elan and tried to figure out how the editors before me picked the poems that would be in the book. I decided it wasn’t editors that picked apart poems and threw them in “yes” and “no” piles, it was the book that made the decisions. The essence and aesthetic of Elan showed me that we want poems that speak to the big and small, that can be read and understood immediately or others that need to be unpacked. It told me to look at where a poem takes my breath, where it makes me grimace, where it makes me want more, those are our poems.

Along with teaching me how to feel poetry, it’s taught me how to come out of my shell. This book has so much to offer people and as part of the staff, our job is to convince people that they need this book in their life. You need to read these pieces that students have poured themselves into, you need to invite them in, let them settle inside your soul and tell you a story. It’s become a drive and passion to share what this book has to offer with my own friends and family, the community of Jacksonville, and the community of writers. I’ve met and had more conversations with random people that I never would have before by just walking up to them and asking if they enjoy reading and writing, and just letting the conversation go from there. It has almost always led somewhere interesting. At Art Walk, I met two former theater majors and got to learn about their time at Douglas Anderson. I also met an older gentleman who was so excited for Writers’ Festival, he actually had a countdown going.

So, as a member of the Elan staff, in my year here, it has taught me a lot, but I think it has something even more to offer to our readers. Readers who can be any age and any gender and any type of person, there is something in this book for everyone and it has been that way for 30 years, offering the same quality and raw material every time. Elan would also say to its readers that it’s best enjoyed curled up on the couch with your favorite tea, taking in the sweet musings of teenagers from thirty years ago to now and all they have to say.

-Madison Dorsey, Junior Poetry Editor