When I first heard about Elan in my freshman year at Douglas Anderson, I thought it was a selective opportunity for upperclassmen. I remember looking through the pages of Elan’s online fall 2015 edition and thinking that I could never have the skills to have my pieces selected. I never considered my writing anything more than mediocre. In my freshman year, writing was a way to understand myself and the environment around me. It was the first time I wrote about culture and the identities associated with my heritage. This is when “Stains of Spanish Grease” was published in Elan’s Spring 2016 issue. This is when I rushed home to tell my parents and friends that I was a part of something important. This is when I realized that I liked writing images and manipulating them into poetry. First, Elan was an outlet for me as an artist. Not only did my friends and family recognize what I was doing, but people in the community valued what I created. Before I was a part of the staff, Elan asked me to read at multiple events in Jacksonville, which made me feel like an authentic artist. I didn’t think of myself as a student who was selected in a high school publication. I was an artist who created art, an artist eager to be a part of the literary world.
In two short years, Elan has changed me drastically. I took on leadership roles that made me build relationships with the staff. I also learned how to communicate with the staff more efficiently, as well as confront problems that developed over time. One of my biggest projects was curating the “Voices Unearthed” gallery exhibit at Yellow House. The exhibit was a turning point for Elan’s recognition in the community for artists and students. I saw the impact that Elan left on people coming in and out of the gallery, people who were astonished by the publication’s vulnerability and originality. I realized how important the publication was for people who were just discovering their identities and place in the community.
I feel in debt to my staff advisor, Tiffany Melanson, for always being honest and reliable. I look up to her and the changes she has fostered into each one of our lives. She made me appreciate art for what it can do for not only for myself, but the literary community around me. The editorial, communal, and marketing skills that I’ve learned in Elan are unique and valuable for any career I decide to start in the future. The reality that my time in Elan is ending feels bittersweet. I feel like I’m leaving behind a part of myself that took years to develop and mold. However, I know that Elan will continue to positively affect future staff members/artists for years to come.
- Evelyn Alfonso, Senior Poetry Editor