One of my favorite pieces in our Spring Book is a story titled, “By the Cornfields.” And while I typically prefer reading poetry over fiction, there is no denying the masterful craft involved in creating a full narrative in 310 words.
There is an eeriness to the piece’s voice that is unlike any Élan submission I’ve ever seen. The speaker is so well characterized through their sparse dialogue, and looming environmental details, that such a mall word count seems impossible. I especially like the bluntness taken on at certain times in the piece. At one point the speaker says, almost directly to the reader, “She was too old to be worrying about me. I was too old; men my age wake and can’t find comfort in their beds again. And that’s that.” The voice relays such certainty despite their seemingly constant paranoia. It is extremely satisfying to observe a character with so many layers in a microfiction piece.
Length aside, I truly admire Reece’s piece for its uniqueness. We get a pretty large array of Southern Gothic submissions tackling tropes and archetypes we are all too familiar with. We also get a lot of submissions displaying the dynamics within a marriage—the certain unavoidable conflicts, or a struggle for power. Reece manages to display elements from both of these things in a way I’ve never seen before. She creates a hellscape of sorts: in the country— out in the middle of nowhere—where a man favors his delusions over his wife, and the farm around him symbolizes the insanity (or evil) taking over him. I can’t put into words how much I enjoy this piece, and how proud I am to include it in our Spring Edition.
The uniqueness I mentioned in regard to Reece’s fiction can be said about a lot of our submissions this issue. As far as art goes, we got a fair number of abstract pieces that are typically hard to come by. Beautiful works such as Maverick Johnson’s Earth’s Sensations and Tamia Brinkley’s Composition 9721 helped evolve Élan’s voice from Fall to Spring; and even the pieces themselves display a kind of movement that perfectly matches the symbolism behind spring: renewal, rebirth. That being said, our book also does a great amount of work to contradict the typical messages of Spring. Some of my favorite pieces delve into hauntings of the past—such as Breana Kinchen’s “Oranges” or Jasper Darnell’s “How You Learned to Sleepwalk.” I think we cover almost every possible human emotion from cover to cover.
This Spring Issue will be my second-to-last book as Editor-in-Chief. Looking through the rough draft of the book, I couldn’t be more happy with what we managed to accomplish during this hectic time. I’m also extremely proud of my Junior Editor-in-Chief, Zoe, who took the Spring Issue on with great leadership and control. Everyone single person on this staff has grown above and beyond their role—and for that I am also proud.
I’m immensely grateful for the wonderful teen artists who make this book possible. I’ve never wanted Élan to have a “voice,” but rather, an ever-changing collection of voices. As an editor on the Élan staff, we don’t have the power to control what pieces get submitted: only which ones we choose to publish. It is important to us that all genres, all backgrounds, all topics, get their fair share of space in our publication. This issue ranges from helping a loved one with dementia, to visiting a father in jail, to an American Heritage Girls camping trip. The options are truly endless.
And seeing this end result, I truly think the founding Élan staff from 35 years ago would be proud of their legacy.
– Olivia Meiller, Senior Editor-in-Chief