In Pursuit of a Better Élan
Élan in its final form--the beautiful, glossy print book chock-full of unique, brilliant art and writing--is, in truth, the realization of a dream rooted in a 30+ year legacy of publication. Every year, through the power of collaboration and teamwork, we somehow manage to spin a book out of thin air. Of course, this takes a lot of care and foresight that may seem difficult or obtuse in the moment, but every inflection in the process ends up visible in the final product.
One of the biggest problems the role of Poetry Editor presents is that it is nebulous--ever-changing and thus reliant on its respective staff member's initiative and desire to maximize their time on Élan. The process of selecting writing to print is arduous and intense, and it is not a system without faults. In pursuit of efficiency, we are always looking for a way to manage this system: to streamline it, edit and tweak a role or two where we can, to make sure we produce the best product as efficiently as humanly possible. It's all about automation--making sure that in the little assembly line of publication, everyone is doing their part well and spending their time wisely.
In my last year of being on the Élan staff, I, along with my co-genre editor want to take personal charge of the fine tuning of this process, which should frankly be the raison d'être of the staff: making sure we get a book out in as timely a fashion as possible. Realizing that that initiative was all I needed to kickstart the process was my biggest hurdle to leap last year. Understanding that, if I wanted to change things, the only way that change would be realized through is my own dedication to my goals, took a surprisingly long time to realize. In a standard, public learning environment, students are so rarely forced to think for themselves in an interesting manner. How often have you entered an English class and the teacher, upon first seeing you, asks "How do you want to change things?"
Getting my brain used to that mode of thinking took a long time. I learned--perhaps a little too late in the game--to check in with myself, to explore dissatisfaction and make a gambit to ameliorate the problem, and, most of all, that change is good. Suggestions are good. If it means an Élan that runs smoothly and powerfully like the well-oiled machine any good magazine should be, change must be welcome from all sources. In pursuit of an ever-better Élan, Excelsior.
- Conor Naccarato, Senior Poetry Editor