Elan & I

Kiara's Blog Post PictureElan was my freshmen dream. I remember our arts department meeting and being told about the different opportunities upperclassmen would offered and I knew Elan was for me. Here and now, being on staff as Layout and Design Editor I wouldn’t have guessed the expansive nature to which this publication has grown. Looking back just a few years ago at the staff members who created the books, I see that Layout and Design editor is a fairly new position.

As my role of Layout and Design Editor becomes more familiar to me and I put together the work of our Editors-in-Chiefs and all of our editors I have an appreciation of the dedication and commitment it took to hold together everything this book is for thirty years.

The old Elan books all the way from 1986, which are held together by staples, mean so much to me. I am honored to have them in archives and see the work of those from before me. Being a part of something that has so much meaning to others always holds great significance to me because I’m holding a legacy. I like to think of it like I’m pushing it forward along with the voices of all those old staff members with their own dreams, desires, and words and art from the past.

I recently got into the literary magazine for the first time. I love that I can say to my freshmen self I’ve achieved something I didn’t want to graduate without.

It’s all so astounding to see the physical evolution of Elan too. I remember studying the older books and one of my favorites has to be the Elan Winter edition from 2011, which was only five years ago, but the solid cover felt allusive to me. That edition stuck out to me because it was as if the words and art were all you needed to think about in the book. The content was enough, and I enjoyed that simplicity.

I am happy with the consistencies we’re developing as a staff and the path Elan is taking, but I love opening up the archives and seeing each unique magazine. The issues of those from the past, up to thirty years ago that I get to learn from is what makes me proud to be on Elan.

-Kiara Ivey, Layout & Design Editor

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

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