I didn’t picture myself as a poet two years ago. Now, I’m part of Élan as a senior poetry editor. It has always been a goal of mine to represent the very best of what Douglas Anderson produces, especially in a department that rarely gets recognition or acknowledgment by the student body. Élan is the physical embodiment of what we do: create. I applied to the Élan staff wanting to give back to the literary community that has so deeply taken care of me for years. I’ve been very privileged in the programs and shows I’ve partaken in and I know that many young writers around the world don’t get the same opportunities whether it be a result of lack of resources, lack of interest in the arts, or lack of confidence. Being accepted onto the Élan staff has helped me understand the sheer magnitude of this platform, often undermined, where I can help and give my peers a voice and be heard as well as a larger perspective.
My privilege comes from Douglas Anderson and the opportunities granted that I otherwise would have no context for. I’m aware of the literary community and competitions and the process of submissions—only few young writers do. Élan has the ability to give a stage to the voices of teenagers with little access to the literary world, give a stage to upcoming young writers, and showcases just how powerful teenage creation is. Élan’s importance to people within my community is not unknown to me. We are able to produce and demonstrate young artistic excellence beyond our own communities, which is the most significant aspect of Élan. We get to lift our peers’ voices and represent our work as equal importance to established writers.
I won’t lie. I’ve been struggling as a writer throughout the few months with very little emotion toward creating until school started and I was introduced, once again, with the power of art. This isn’t to say I’ve been creating masterpieces every night. I’ve started to realize the art in learning how to edit, check, approve of pieces. How do we determine which piece is accepted or denied? How do we, as a team, show our magazine to locals and strangers? I find there’s beauty in rekindling the relationship between a creation and its future. Reading new pieces and evaluating our archives for different posters or needs subconsciously flows one’s mind with lines and poetic language, it sneaks into our brains late or during class, and the simplest, mindless engagement with art will create something. Something churns in my head, I can feel it, and I know it’s from familiarizing myself with this craft. The engagement with art does so much more than one realizes, and I’m excited to see how it will pave a way for my own writing.
– Alexa Naparstek, Senior Poetry Editor