The first edition of Voices literary journal was published this year, and a week ago on the seventeenth of May, the Lubeznik Center for the Arts hosted a release party to celebrate the brand new journal. I was honored to be a part of the process and work with a small team of dedicated editors to bring the journal to life. My piece “Falling Stars” was published in the journal, and my photograph “Aftermath” was featured on the cover. Voices officially debuted at the Zine and Small Press Fest, and it’s now for sale in the LCA gift shop.
Thursday’s venue had an open cash bar and a small sampling of hors’ d’oeuvres. The celebration started with a brief introduction from Hannah, Lubeznik’s education director, followed by a word from Jo, the instructor for the Sandcastle Writers. The support for the local writing community was overwhelming, and I was beyond grateful to have my family in attendance. When I was a senior in high school, I was in the top ten percent of my class, and so I attended the Pride Banquet with the teacher of my choice. That same teacher was in the audience as I performed my first public reading. Lorraine Tighe was one of those special inspirational teachers who guided me onto the writing path, and that night, I signed her copy of the journal. Eight years ago, I never would have guessed this is where I’d be standing, but I’m honored that she’s still standing right beside me.
The readings began, and one by one, authors stepped up to the mic to read to a full house. With seventeen readers on the itinerary, I decided to forgo my short story “Falling Stars” and instead read a shorter piece of poetic prose titled “Home,” a special treat in that it was the only reading of the evening not found in the journal. “Home,” as I mention in the video below, was written as a Sandcastle writing prompt in class. The piece encapsulates the moment I took the cover-winning photograph in Edisto Beach, South Carolina. It had been a windy day on the Atlantic coast. In fact, I later had to send my camera out for a professional deep clean because of the sand. But in the end, I captured the shot, which was worth the price.
A special thanks goes out to Jo, Hannah, the Lubeznik Center, and everyone who made this journal possible. Please enjoy my reading of “Home.”
“Home” (Sandcastle 10.10)
When the wind kisses salt on your lips, it reminds you of home. Not the small town roots of the wide open Midwest where you grew up, but your ancestral home, the one that makes your cells tingle with the ancient memory of being born in the frothing sea.
My bare toes curl in the sand, the sharp edge of a shell in between, the foam racing to meet me for a quick embrace before retreating in swirling eddies. I breathe in. Wind sweeps long hair over my eyes, tangling salty knots like promises—a perfume I will wear for weeks after a bittersweet goodbye.
Far off in the waves, a skeleton tree stands watch. The sea foam recedes around my ankles again, drawing the sand out from underfoot with shifting grains that make me sink, like the Atlantic wishes to swallow me and remake me anew. But I stand firm like the tree battered by a hurricane many years ago, a carcass now, the bark blackened and worn smooth by the sea spray and salt, eroded, but still standing. Still tall. Still defiant. A lone survivor amidst the wreckage of Edisto Beach.
The wind shifts, its roar in harmony with the crashing waves. The sand is everywhere, nestled in every crevice, tucked between every hair follicle, each grain eroding me cell by cell like the tree in the ocean. The sea calls us home.
But we refuse.
I'm an award-winning fantasy author, artist, and photographer from La Porte, Indiana. My poetry, short fiction, and memoir works have been featured in various anthologies and journals since 2005, and several of my poems are available in the Indiana Poetry Archives. The first two novels in my Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms series both received the Literary Titan Gold Book Award in 2020.
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