Flowers encountered on wilderness walks during the pandemic and one perfectly cultivated rose (Victoria Waddle)
“Despite the notion that we are voiceless, it seems to me that the challenge of a good creative writing instructor is to teach students that they do indeed have a voice and that their voice, that all our voices in concert, have meaning. … We should be struggling with our students as writers, and students of writing, to leave behind something worth protecting, worth defending, something that contributes to the growth of this culture.”–Jon Chopan, Glimmer Train bulletin 137, June, 2018
According to findings by the National Endowment for the Arts, in under a decade, the number of poetry readers in the United States almost doubled to a total of 28 million adults–and that was before self-isolation during the pandemic began. I saw a similar increase in teens wanting to read poetry in my school library over the last several years. The most popular events each year were an open mic night for all writers (including songwriters) and a blackout poetry contest. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to give our teens a venue for their work? Thus, three years ago, we launched our first all-teen issue of Inlandia.
As the coronavirus pandemic has affected so many, this particular launch has been a tough one. While I hope that their families and friends are healthy, our teens had to exit school and leave off regular interaction with their friends. They lost their proms and graduations. I’d like this issue to remind us all that we can still make connections through the creative arts. Teen stories matter.
A few of the teens whose work was selected are unreachable. I’m guessing this has to do with their school email addresses, their use of school technology at home (Chromebooks on loan, etc.) and the fact that they left school months early and were cut off from some of their support. If we happen to get in touch with them, we will add their work. So check back–this issue may grow! Meanwhile, I’ve added a few photos throughout the issue that record a bit of my pandemic experience.
Congratulations to all the teens whose work was selected. A special shout out goes to our first place winners in four categories:
Image: Shaina Boal for “Submerged”
Nonfiction: Sydney Burr for “This Political Op-Ed is Not About Trump”
Fiction: Max Endieveri for “Leda and the Swan”
We had a wonderful group of teen editors for this issue, all of whom had thoughtful responses to the submissions. Please have a look at their brief biographies here. Our teen editors-in-chief have been with us from the first teen issue in 2018. I appreciate Kiyani and Stephanie more than I can say! I decided to interview them for this issue, so teens hoping to have work published in the future will get an idea of what editors look for. Please check out their thoughts on what they admire in the work they select, what books they recommend to our readers, and what resources they recommend to writers. Stephanie Martinez-Beltram is interviewed here. Kiyani Carter is interviewed here.
As we complete our tenth year of Inlandia: A Literary Journey, I wish you joyous and insightful reading! Thank you for taking this journey with us.
Victoria Waddle, Managing Editor