Èlan as an Impact

Logan's Blog PictureMy first experience with Elan was in freshman year, when I was forced to submit my first fiction portfolio for a homework grade. The story was about some kid and how he related his father to parachutes, throughout different stages of his life. Shockingly, it was titled “Parachutes.” You can read it on page 44 of Elan: Winter 2013, located on the archives page of the Elan Literary Magazine website at https://elanlitmag.org/archives/.

From that point on, there were three reasons that I fell in love with Elan:

  1. Elan Literary Magazine was a professional publication run within my own department.
  2. Students led the masthead of Elan.
  3. My work was about to be published for the first time!

I looked up to Elan so much that I had neck pain. My hope for junior year was that I would become a part of the staff, so that I could also assist in the spread of literary publishing breakthroughs for other kids like myself, who started off without any hope of getting published.

And so, the dream has become reality. Bam. I’m here.

Oftentimes, reality can be described as a letdown.

With Elan, that statement is entirely false.

Being able to play a part in the group that led to what I consider to be my first and ultimately most important achievement as a writer means the world to me because I am able to contribute to impacting other kids the same way Elan impacted me. Most importantly, I am far from the only person who feels this way about Elan. Thirty years of children with writing and hopes for their work laid the road to where we are now. Thirty years of work have ultimately culminated into where the publication stands today, as both an online and printed work of literature.

And the most beautiful thing about the publication is that it continues to inspire me in new ways. For example, the recently-held Elan 30th Anniversary Alumni Reading brought together a few writers who were published in Elan during their time at Douglas Anderson in order to show where those writers stand today. Some of the writers pursued professions having to do with writing while others took more academically-based paths. Some of them admitted to giving up writing at some point in their lives. However, all of them still considered themselves to be writers because they all returned or stayed with the art, with Elan as the starting point to their explorations of the art form. Seeing those people made me, for the first time, truly see the importance of Elan as a legacy, and how much those thirty years of dedication have made an impact on the writers of my department, whether they are currently enrolled or left the school twenty years ago.

And so, my definition of Elan has evolved. Whereas when I was a freshman I only saw Elan as a publication, I now view it as an inspiration.

-Logan Monds, Social Media Editor 

From Fan to Senior Poetry Editor: How I learned what it meant to be a part of a long-standing tradition

Aracely's Blog PictureBefore I joined the Élan Literary Magazine Staff I was a fan and a contributor. In my sophomore year of high school I was giddy to learn the publication accepted my creative nonfiction piece about my process of character development. The following year, my junior year, they published my poem about my revelation concerning my sexual identity.

At the end of both years I held the glossy finished product in my hands. I flipped frantically to find my work in there, sure enough with its own page, and my name among the table of contents.  As with any budding writer it felt wonderful to feel validated, my words printed definitively into the page.  I still have the books, tucked lovingly next to yellowing copies of Black Beauty and The Collected Poems of Pablo Neruda.

But this time around the published book will hold a greater weight.

My Senior Year I joined the Élan Staff, not quite sure how I was going to contribute but knowing I wanted to dip my hands in the process of compiling and creating the book.

My first taste came when the reading process took place to prepare for the publication of our winter online book. Before I knew it I was bursting with nearly a hundred poems, all of them singing the particular cadence of a young writer. I sat there, knowing I had a major hand in deciding which ones would find their way to the book. I’ll admit, I was overwhelmed. To make matters worse the poet in me was flailing with indecision. One poem would distract me with its fascinating imagery, and another with the blunt, lyrical voice of its speaker. Eventually I settled myself and made decisive albeit difficult choices.

Next came helping those whose work fell into a tricky in-between. To clarify, those who the magazine wanted to publish, but whose work still needed some polishing. Again, my position came into play. I sat down with young poets like myself and tossed myself into their poetry. I sat for several minutes going line by line, making notes, and then later talking to them face to face. Though intimidated at first, I grew to love the investigative nature of it. Learning to respect the writer’s voice and work while discovering the intricacies that needed improvement.

Since 1986 someone or several people have been in the same position as I am. Falling gently for the poetry finding itself in front of them. As well as left pondering over paper with thumb pressed to their lips, brow thoughtfully wrinkled.

Though Élan has a myriad of books chronicling its literary journey since the 80’s, it also carries a group of former editors behind it. It pleases me to think that my experience with Élan is a shared one, and will continue on to be just that for those who choose to involve themselves in the magazine. The magazine itself will go on to enrich the community and encourage young writers through sharing their work, just as it did for me, and just as I am doing for others.

-Aracely Medina, Senior Poetry Editor

30th Anniversary Alumni Appreciation: Emily Cramer

Emily CramerÈlan Literary Magazine is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. In honor of our longevity we are posting work from our editorial staff alumnus, which includes biographies, Q&A’s, and excerpts of their pieces.

After graduating from Douglas Anderson in 2014, Emily Cramer moved to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University, where she is studying Nursing. She is a member of the Honors Student Association and has been on the Dean’s List for the past three semesters. She is currently serving as Secretary on the Executive Board of Lady Spirithunters, a spirit-based organization that works closely with the Florida State Athletic Department to spread love of FSU to the Tallahassee community and other FSU students.

 

Cherokee Land, 1830

(From Èlan 2014)

We found a maimed wolf this morning,

caught in the chicken wire.

Pa called for my brother

to fetch the rifle.

When he passed

he brushed my shoulder,

whispering of footsteps

words spoken in a tongue

we could not understand.

 

Sometimes at night,

when Pa slept off his fingers

of whiskey and twigs snapped

beyond our windows,

Ma told us stories of man and wolf

melding into one,

sun thrumming through veins.

She told us how we pushed

into their land, built on their earth.

She told us of a brotherhood

painted on hills, feathers sticking

to stone to form figures,

histories hung from

lips lit by fire.

 

My brother returned with the rifle.

Pa hawked up spit and sent

it into the wolf’s face.

He told us to watch,

learn what happens when savages

enter our land, take from our mouths.

 

 

 

Dear Harper

(Performed at the Èlan 30th Anniversary Alumni Reading)

Between your ink-blot pages

I found the cul-de-sac

at the end of our street,

where my brother and I

raced bicycles

round

and around

and around,

until we stumbled

home, dizzy with

grins and sun.

In Scout,

I discovered my mother,

mirror image

younger sister, scabbed knees,

undending curiosity and stubbornness,

a kindness sunken into

her very being.

Within your letter fragments

I unearthed

the history of the soil

I buried by toes in,

from sun rays dappling

leaves in the park down

the street,

to dark boughs bending

over, cries ringing

through the wood.

 

But in Atticus,

dear Mr. Finch,

I found the father

I had only dreamt of,

a father who would

take my hand and explain

justice in a way I understood,

a father who would

hang on my every word,

who treated me like

my mind was made of gold.

 

Somewhere, a mockingbird

begins to sing,

and two children

run through a wood,

their father following

with a smile.

 

 

What lesson did you learn at DA that sticks with you still? (Not just a lesson in the classroom but a larger lesson that gives perspective to your current life)

In junior and senior year, I really began to understand that fiction and poetry are not completely separate genres. In my last two years at DA, I began experimenting with using fictional storytelling techniques in my poetry, and using poetic language in my fiction. Some stories need to be written in a fictional format, and others need to be poems. At DA, with the help of [my instructors], I learned how to merge genres and write stories the way I needed and they needed to be told.