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

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

Community Through Writing

Logan Blog Post PictureI will never forget the day I was accepted into Douglas Anderson as a freshman, a fresh teenager, a creative writer. I expected to learn about imagery or symbolism or whatever colleges were looking for at that point, but didn’t anticipate how important a community can be towards honing my writing skills. The experience that I have gained as a result is nothing short of invaluable.

Class activities were surrounded by group critiques and group discussions. When my submission was accepted into Élan, I was offered a glimpse into the inner workings of the magazine, and the staff who critiqued my piece to help it get to the place it needed to be. I saw a force that was indestructible: teamwork at its finest. This, I thought. This is what I want to have.

And so the years have offered me such as I have wanted. If I need help with a piece due the next morning, I can text a classmate and they will offer me points for revision. If I need help with a piece I have written on my own time, I come to the same group. And, with my entry into the Élan staff, I have found the community of editors to be all I desired and more. There is always help offered, and there is always a person at your side who understands.

It is a horrible feeling, to think of a future where I do not have the connections I possess now in terms of accessing writers who can help me further my work, and vice versa. Consulting writers is the foundation of how I write; I need unbiased judgement on the pieces I’ve drafted five times. I need fresh eyes on the pieces I don’t know how to finish. Community has changed the ways I write for the better; community is essential to writing. After all, how would Élan have begun if not for such a strong foundation of writers?

-Logan Monds, Junior Social Media & Marketing Editor