“Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind — even if your voice shakes.” ~ Activist Maggie Kuhn (August 3, 1905 – April 22, 1995)
In a lifetime dedicated to not standing still, Maggie Kuhn stood for the rights of the elderly. After being forced into retirement by the Presbyterian Church in 1971, Kuhn founded the Gray Panthers whose idealistic mission today has broadened to “work for social and economic justice and peace for all people.” That’s one heavy mission statement.
So what, pray tell, does Maggie Kuhn and her ilk have to do with the advent of a new, online journal of poetry and prose? Why not bring up Harry Chapin (world hunger), Mitch Snyder (homelessness), and Abbie Hoffman (counterculture) as role models and rabble rousers? Hell, while we’re at the holier-than-thou confessional, why not mention Gandhi and Mother Teresa?
Have the media so shaped our minds and distorted our inner fabric that we no longer know how to separate the journalistic wheat from the political chaff? The personal from the professional? Is no forum or publication spared a political agenda? Do I dare proselytize at the risk of alienating you from the start? No. I’m a publisher and I have a very straightforward agenda. My job is to introduce you to new writers. Writers who refuse to be pigeonholed. Writers who live to caress language and make sense of the surrounding chaos. With poetry. With flash fiction. With long stories. With audio and interactive video. With care.
This generation of writers is redefining the role of literature. This generation of writers has the same chutzpah it took the Beat Writers and members of the Algonquin Round Table to accept the writer’s daily responsibility: practice the craft, and when the time calls for it, give it to The Man and don’t let your friends, family and neighbors off the hook either. Let us see what we’re really like, how we really behave, what we all build and destroy. Mankind deserves a spanking and this generation of writers has the means to swat us. If not with a paddle, a pen. By the very act of publishing work in independent literary journals and small press e-zines, these writers are stepping up to the morality plate and taking a swing for/at humanity. What you take from their words is between you and the screen that separates/protects you.
“We are the risk-takers; we are the innovators; we are the developers of new models. We are trying the future on for size. That is our role.” ~ Maggie Kuhn, Founder of Gray Panthers
What I love about living in these unprecedented, globally connected times is that anything seems possible. For those of us fortunate enough to be carving out words in the literary landscape, planting seeds, and digging for manna in the U.S. publishing soil, the 21st century is not for the short of sight or the thin of spine. It is a daily calling of activism, not in the traditional sense, but in the modern, free world sense. Look no further than Egypt’s Facebook Revolution to witness the immense power of online communication.
The power of the writer.
Be it fact, fable, or fictional memoirs, the collective strength of the written word has gained Krazy Glue-like traction through a community of bloggers, Facebook-loitering socialites, and Tweet-obsessed dilettantes en masse. These avatars of cyberspace congregate with the sheer force and calculated grace of a flash mob. And most of these writers do not intend on being a fleeting phenomenon. Their disparate voices—some reputable and informed, others shadowy and ill-conceived—are here to entertain and confound us. Their greatest success is to be heard, all while searing an array of images—some synchronized, others dissonant—into our rewired, Google-addled brains, despite our best efforts to thwart them.
Writers who get under our skin are like contagious pop songs and terribly addictive TV drama plots; no matter how hard we try to shake them, they stick (it) to us. Thankfully, due to the seemingly unlimited capacity of the Internet to archive human intelligence, we immortalize writers and critics who prophesy with their pens. We hermetically seal their societal influence to prevent the invasion of naysayers. Until one is exposed as a shaman or charges an admission price to have his brain dump consumed firsthand, we bow to the greatness and legacy of our literary forefathers. But not to their likeness.
Good, bad, or dastardly (in)different, what writers dare to post on our website exposes all of us as the lunkheads we are and the brainiacs we endeavor to be, saddled in front of our information portals, alone and confused by this convoluted post, and made to confront our artificial tans, our cold sores, and our lowly mortal attempts at integrity. (And to misquote Steve Earle, “I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my publisher’s hat and say that.”)
So to be muddily clear of our intentions as a journal of whimsical interpretation (via story form, poetic verse, and electric lit), most of the sentences you read on the Atticus Review website will not contain one iota of footnotes, or revisionist-backed proof or Wiki-fied verifications, simply because the contents of Atticus Review will demand truth, imagination, creative license, intermittent spikes of thought (gasp!), a warped sense of humor, and to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, “the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
Modern weaponry and torpedoes be damned, we, the (Katrina) Gray-spearheaded Panthers at Atticus Review, will set out to prove the pen mightier than the nuclear warhead. And Gray willing, we will be able to recruit writers whose thoughts are more cohesive—and less distracted—than the publisher’s.
Painting: “Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill 1628” by Pieter Claesz
Public Domain (Free for non commercial use)
Image Source: Tumblr