Turning a Corner

     It finally became clear – or rather a smug ignorant painter hit me over the head forcing clarity – that it is time to depart from the Edison Arts Society. They seem to be moving toward becoming a professional artists’ collective and that involvement with the local community will not be one of the prime concerns of the group. For many years I have been stressing the sharing of the arts, not only with each other as artists, but with the larger community  as a way of discovering new talent, building a new audience base and creating ways of growing in  our own work.  Since this seems to be  their new path, it is time for me to go.    

    We will continue on our own to publish the Edison Literary Review (the “little booklet” the director of the Society called it; the painter was not that kind, although equally dismissive of our magazine, despite the fact that it is one of the best small journals around). If I sound bitter, I’m not. The Society had great potential and I really enjoyed working with the schools and sponsoring the poetry contest.  I think I did some good work bringing poetry to people who otherwise would not have heard it or would ever have tried writing it themselves. I was hurt and angry by the demeaning hatchet job but now I am frustrated that I am still put in a position of having  to defend the work I do (didn’t I do enough of that with the Church?). This is especially difficult when it must be repeated ad nauseam for 9 years to people who are totally ignorant of the disciple they are demeaning.

     Enough — – In the past 5 days since this began, I have been blest with  much support and many offers of help with the magazine and to congratulation us on this new path – Tony and Amanda, who already work with the mag and helped me rant out my anger; one of my closest friends who helped me get over the hurt; the son who’s “Wow” preceded offers to chat about new ways to grow; two strangers who stopped me at LaPeep restaurant to tell me they had seen the winners of the middle and high school contest reading on local tv and how impressed they were with the students’ work.  In honesty, I never got this much support or positive feedback from the Society.  Life, I just keep learning, is always full of surprises as well as corners!!  You may fill in all the appropriate cliches here.


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3 Comments on “Turning a Corner”

  1. David V Says:

    What a shame that people feel the need to ridicule what they cannot do and don’t understand. I’m glad your faith in your work is unshaken. I hope you’ll continue to improve the world around you even when the world doesn’t immediately appreciate it.

  2. ELR (or whatever it will be called next) was truly a labor of love and dedication for Gina. I’ve seen other, much more well-heeled arts organizations launch similar publications to see them die with hardly a whimper after a couple of issues. Gina went out with nothing but her reputation…we had no budget…and got contributions from people like Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Dunn, Pushcart winner BJ Ward, Lyn Lifshin, Joe Weil, Maria Gillan, Patrick Rosal and others whose names may not carry a lot of weight in the general public, but carry a lot of clout in the literary world.

    The rather Spartan look of the journal (which I understand was a criticism) is in part due to the lack of budget and the weird constraints of the Arts Society-recommended printer. There was no money for color/glossy paper/bleeds, etc. Issue one is fairly dreadful looking (I’m the designer/typesetter). As I got used to the printer’s unorthadox methods, it got better. Given the budget to do justice in printing the work of visual artists, it could have been a lot prettier. But the emphasis was, is and will continue to be making the writers’ works readable. I see too many glossies where the articles are simply type for the art director to make a pretty page. Whether the words are legible…whether you can follow the bouncing flow of the type…whether you can make sense of the writer’s work is at best secondary to the art director’s vision of making a pretty page. (I see lots of text books at my day job. The people who design most of them should be sentenced to trying to take a course where you have to actually read the book they’ve designed.) There were lots of ideas to tweak the design. If they got in the way of reading the text, they got thrown out.

    Anyway, whatever it’s called, the journal will live on thanks to Gina’s dedication and her reputation in the poetry community (Stephen Dunn doesn’t allow his work to appear just anywhere), which is something that seemed under appreciated by the arts society.

    And I won’t even get into the work she did in the schools for them. WOW!

  3. David V Says:

    I remember one of the poets Tony lists above pulling me aside after V2 to say “Keep an eye on this journal. It’s going to be a terrific one.”

    And he was right.

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