It is quite possible that this mantra, these five words, this simple statement will be recognized as one, if not the principal one, of the defining statements of 2018. I first heard the phrase “I stand with…” as a rallying cry in support of Native Americans involved at the Standing Rock struggle. Many other organizations and individuals embraced the phrase to meet agendum ranging from political, cultural, and social movements to basic human rights issues. As society transitioned from 2017 to 2018 another anthem emerged.
Originally founded eleven years ago by Tarana Burke, an ardent African-American feminist, the “Me Too” movement back then and now seeks to work with survivors of sexual violence and the process of healing for victims. However, it appears that when any prevailing negative issue affects the privileged class, there is enormous media attention and overwhelmingly public outrage. Just note, sexual and domestic abuse has affected ordinary women but only recently has there been a focus since rich, powerful, and privileged celebrities in the entertainment industry and federal public service have been recipients or perpetrators in this devious abuse. Unfortunately, it is a routine, unacceptable dilemma for far too many celebrity-less women especially women of color. We can change that. We will change that. Abusers take notice. No more. You can run. You can hide. We will find and expose you as the predatory example of humankind that you represent. We will support and embrace your victims. With that said…
In the literary world, authors, writers, publishers, book sellers, and agents continue to stand with each other to provide the public with intriguing and memorable words in a wide variety of genres, subjects, and themes. In a new year that continues to bring forth challenging personal and professional issues for me, I am pleased to provide a brief analysis of where aaduna has stood.
In December 2016, partnering with the Cayuga Museum of History and Art in Auburn, New York, and the decades old, ‘young’ print publication, Olive Trees, aaduna collaborated to revise a literary series re-named, “word, revisited.” This bi-weekly series was launched in March 2017 with the twofold purpose of providing featured speakers a platform to extoll the wonderment of words and provide a supportive and nurturing forum for open mic presenters. The spring and then fall 2017 season was scheduled and emceed by me, and Ron Van Nostrand, poet, musician, and publisher of Olive Trees will shepherd the 2018 season.
aaduna’s May 2017 fundraiser once again provided an exciting evening of readings by a diverse roster of compelling poets and writers. Recognizing the role that the Blues played in the Harlem Renaissance (the ongoing overall thematic framework for our fundraisers,) the evening was wrapped in the live music provided by Bluesman Stevie Wolf and friends. The readers strutted, embraced, cajoled and expanded horizons with words that flew, darted here ‘n’ there, and gracefully landed within the conscious of the audience. We thank Howard Nelson, Cyd Charisse Fulton, Austin Morgan, Rachael Ikins, Doug Curry, and Jackie Warren-Moore for their gracious participation, enthralling readings, and continuous support for aaduna and artistic expressions.
Timothy Ogene our principal poetry editor, previously featured aaduna contributor, and the individual who set the bar for our poetry publications, is departing his editorial role. While he intends to remain a part of the aaduna family, Tim has started to pursue his PhD at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England, and needs to focus his energies on his scholarly work. He also has a new book that is available. I suspect, our readership will see his footprints as we move forward, as well as the impact that he will bring to the evolution of the literary Canon. We thank him for his work with us and wish him blessings and avenues for continued great accomplishments in his future.
As noted in my last message, we are gearing up to welcome a new feature where we will explore the global contributions to the “word” by individuals who tend to be left out of the accepted Canon regardless of the reason. Chaya Bhuvaneswar will engage and inform us and bring her perspective in commentary, and we look forward to Dr. Bhuvaneswar’s periodic commentaries that will start with the spring 2018 issue. We also recognize her creative achievements when she starts her MacDowell Colony residency, and congratulate her on being awarded a fellowship for that residency.
In this issue, we welcome guest contributing editors Sarah Khan, Dr. Sarah Wyman, Linda Gonzalez, Dr. Peter Lee, Tamara Madison, and Shelby Settles-Harper. Their contributions of reviewing, determining publication, and editing are appreciated and went a long way to formulate the vibrancy of this issue. And in our ongoing initiative to bring diverse and valued opinions to the review of submissions and subsequent publication determinations, we plan to keep expanding the guest contributing editor opportunity for the foreseeable future.
We continue to appreciate and be thankful for the ongoing efforts of founding and subsequent editors Rosemary Blake, Pamela Havens, Lisa A. Brennan, Kenneth G. Gary, Sr., Austin C. Morgan, and will always hold in blessed esteem the late Keith Leonard who set the standard as to how we support submitters and their transition to eventual contributors.
So, this is how we have been ‘standing.’ Within our propensity to change the traditional way to get published works to the public, we proclaim “Me too” to us, to our commitment to our Mission, objectives and initial vision. Just know, we will continue to bring exciting literary and visual arts experiences to our readers and fan base.
Enjoy this new year and the hundred or so remaining days of winter. A winter, so far, with boisterous, devastating cyclone blast of frigid weather, and other environmental dilemmas that we have the capacity to lessen or completely alleviate.
The Earth is our global environment to protect; to keep safe, productive, and beneficial for those countless generations that will come after our life existence.
And this is not a political statement. It is common sense.
Stay Creative in all that you do in 2018!