Last night, Kelly and I hosted a release party for the Fall 2009 issue for the Los Angeles Review. Held at the C & P Coffee Shop in West Seattle, we were thrilled to see many of our Pacific Northwest-area contributors and supporters show their support of this literary magazine for which we care so much. After some schmoozing, catching up, and book sales, we were treated to readings by LAR 6 contributors Anne Liu Kellor, Michael Schmeltzer, Rachel Mehl, Hannah Notess, and Martha Silano. There were many “hmm’s” and “ahh’s” and definitely a few laughs.
On a personal note, it felt incredible to stand among my fellow literary folk for a few hours. I felt wholly warmed to be surrounded by people who share my passion for the written word and my drive to keep it alive in a world where the English language degenerates with every text message and lazy abbreviation. In short, it felt great to be immersed in the community of which I am so proud to be a member. Though I am of course physically exhausted and emotionally drained by recent events in my personal life, I looked around the room during the readings and thought to myself, Yes—this is exactly where I belong and how things should be. For the first time in a long while, I felt good about myself and where my life is heading. Being one of the people who is breathing new life into the Los Angeles Review has reinvigorated my own writing, and my sense of purpose in the literary community.
Being the poetry and translations editor for the Los Angeles Review is a true labor of love. This work takes a LOT of time and patience, and we editors find that it is important to keep ourselves organized and in constant communication with one another in order to make the magazine actually happen. But we do it because we believe in the magazine, and in the power of all literary magazines. We live in a world full of homogenized media and mass capitalization; small presses, independent bookstores, and literary magazines have to battle against some intimidating adversaries. But plow ahead we must, and plow ahead we will.
Red Hen founders Kate Gale and Mark E. Cull worded it perfectly in their letter to our LAR readers:
During these difficult times for the arts, we need relationships, we need community. We all need to remember that if we want literature to survive, we need to be part of making it happen. In the face of climate change, disappearing frogs and butterflies, a generation of teenage boys who don’t seem to be able to grow up, and a financial system that crackles like a California fire out of control, we can not only do something, we can do something magnificent if we work together. To literature and to life.