A Poetic Legacy

The first time a poem came together for me, the words working with me rather than against me, the feeling of success and fulfillment confirmed that I am a poet. I struggled my whole life with getting words together in the way I wanted them to, so to know I had that superpower within me my whole life to express things I previously believed to be indescribable through imagery and poetic devices changed my life. I began carrying myself with more confidence and stopped invalidating my personal truths and experiences. This not only allowed my true voice to come out and helped me confront things I’d run from my whole life, but also allowed my peers and friends to be affected by my work as well.

Élan has provided me the room to share my passion for poetry to a wider audience. I no longer feel like I’m loving poetry in a vacuum. I had the opportunity to visit the creative writing club of Kirby-Smith Middle School to help with workshops, and each visit, I saw the two girls I worked with most light up when I entered the room, invite me over, eagerly show me their newest work and revisions. Their enthusiasm is genuinely a reason for me to continue living and writing even when I feel discouraged. The beneficial relationship I built with the girls is mutual- I helped them with poetry, hopefully fostering a deeper love or appreciation for words within them, and they gave me hope for the future of writing and Élan. Being the poetry editor has enabled me to reach out to so many people and make poetry more accessible through workshops and class visits throughout the school year, and I want to leave behind this legacy of connection.

Through creating poem-in-a-pocket handouts for Artwalk booths and book festivals and leading the creation of the National Poetry Month reading at the 5 & Dime, I’ve extended my passion for poetry to others to build Élan’s presence in the local writing community. Hearing people discussing the poems performed at the 5 & Dime, hearing the small gasps and approving grunts amongst a silent attentive audience in response to powerful imagery and language means the world to me. Seeing people’s faces light up as I talk about poetry with them amongst a crowd of people at events like Artwalk affirms that I am fulfilling my role as poetry editor and planting my legacy of interaction and passion behind in those I’ve reached out to. As Élan grows and evolves, I hope my love for the craft of poetry is carried on through National Poetry Month events and workshops and class visitations. One cannot create in a vacuum, and one cannot exist in a vacuum. Poetry has the power to connect and resonate with people so it needs to be shared and talked about. Future poetry editors will hopefully consider this with everything they do so they can maximize poetry’s impact through their passion.

Gabriella Christenson – Poetry Editor

Work Ethic

I hope that the motivation to encapsulate the essence of Elan remains within my legacy. As the Layout and Design Editor it is my job, with the junior editor, to bring about the physical book, whether it be online and in print. It needs to come alive, and have a face, and become a home for the work of many emerging writers and artists who want to share their words. It is an important duty, and the process takes much time and effort and meticulous review, and in the end having that physical book in your hand is one of the sweetest things that can be received. This is because you work for the book. And I want the legacy I leave is that you’re going to need to work hard for the book, because the people who share their artistry with us work hard. They weave their experiences, knowledge, and questions into the work that is produced. So it is our job to work hard for these young voices that have pushed themselves, because there is in vulnerability in sending off work to anyone.

When I first came into Elan, I wasn’t aware of the weight of these things. Of course nobody can be completely aware to anything until they actually become entangled deeply with something. I became Layout and Design Editor originally because I like to work with the aesthetics of things, and be a part of the conceptualization of a creative process. And I did learn how to do these things, and to teach these things because those who come after me need to be a seed that has taken root.

I became very close to the process of how the art and writing is selected, and how these things exist in this space of this book and there needs to be a balance of these pieces, as well as room to breathe and reflect that is offered up within these pages as well.

The people who submit work to any publication, are putting their trust in us, that if we do pick their work to be showcased, that it will be respected and loved the same way that the creator respected and loved the work. There is the notion, that it is exchanging hands in a sense, because that is how art is circulated. It moves from one place to the next until someone else obtains it, and then really absorbs it, and then shares is genuinely to others, and with love. Art is one of the purest forms of human expression. It is beautifully aware, as well clueless, art has all the answers and then in the same moment, only questions.

The legacy of Elan that I want to share, is that fact, that in the end, we are all creators, and we are all a part of the larger human narrative, and there is pride in having the ability to combine many difference experiences, and thought processes, and have them converge in one place that can really inspire another. The cyclic process of creation can only be fed if it is able to be shared. And if people feel like they have the means to share.

Kiara Ivey – Senior Layout and Design Editor

A Little Bit of a Goodbye

I consider myself extremely lucky to have been a member of the Élan staff for the last 2 years; I started on this staff as a Submissions editor, and am leaving it as the first Managing Editor, and have (hopefully) helped Élan grow as both a magazine and as an enterprise for artistic experiences within the Jacksonville community.

Working on the Élan staff has definitely shaped how I view myself and how I view what I am capable of doing. A lot of the event-related duties I participated in required, not just responsibility, but also the ability to meet deadlines, work interpersonally, and execute ideas. It was, at times, a lot of pressure, but as a result, I am surer of myself as an editor and as a communicator.

When I joined the staff in the fall of 2015, I did not anticipate the enormity of the tasks that the Élan staff is in charge of. Making a book is a lot easier in discussion than in practice, and the fundraising necessary to create a book is something I had completely overlooked initially. The Managing Editor position was created this year largely because the needs of Élan continued to expand beyond what previous staff positions encompassed. I am proud to have been the first, and am proud to have helped fill the needs of Élan.

If nothing else, I hope I have left behind groundwork for future Managing Editors to help work between different staff members, and ease the general process of creating Élan issues, as well as events. I hope that I have left behind the skeleton to make Homecoming (a major fundraiser for Élan) bigger and better every year. I hope I have, as a staff member, helped develop and bolster the Élan brand within our local, as well as international community. I hope I have also helped the Élan print and online issues continue to grow aesthetically, as well as help the Editors-in-Chief and Layout and Design Editors enact their visions.

As I pass on the Managing Editor position, I would like to say that I learned through a lot of trial and error, and am extremely grateful to Mrs. Melanson (our Faculty Advisor), Christina Sumpter (my fellow 2015-2016 Submissions Editor), and Makinley Dozier (2016-2017 Submissions Editor) for being infinitely supportive. I would also like to thank the entire 2015-2017 Élan Staff for allowing me to learn and work alongside them.

Additionally, I would like to extend a thank you to everyone who has read my blog posts, and allowed me to read their submissions and help publish their work—and I would like to especially thank everyone who reads and buys our issues. I truly could not have done it without you.

PROMPT— Write a thank-you letter to someone who you appreciate but wouldn’t normally thank or haven’t thanked in the past (bus driver, crossing guard, parent, teacher, counselor, custodian, coworker, friend, etc.). Minimum 200 words.

Zarra Marlowe – Managing Editor