“As conflicts stubbornly stand in our way, the future in our heads turns into a vague and constant mind. But hope? It’s still there. It’s the tiny light that can explode into a spectral supernova.
This passage was written by an author you may not have heard of, but you may just be intrigued by this short prose. What might surprise you further is who the author is a teenage girl named Hannah Holt, one of many teenage girls featured in this year’s Lake Erie Ink teen anthology, “The Other Side”.
The anthology was compiled from over 50 short stories, poems, essays, and visual artwork submitted by approximately 60 teenagers, including Holt, ages 12-19.
Lake Erie Ink (LEI) began publishing an annual anthology written and edited by teenagers six years ago. The goal of the project is to showcase the talents of teens in the Cleveland area while educating them in writing.
Amy Rosenbluth, Executive Director of LEI, explains how important it is for teens to learn to write, edit and form an anthology, but they also have the freedom to choose how this book is finished.
The point is, they learn, ”says Rosenbluth. “And then they make the decisions about the order and the layout, the chapter titles, all that.”
This year is particularly important, as the group received its highest number of submissions, according to teen editor Sanjana Vedyvas.
“I think part of the reason may be because the school hasn’t been in person for a while,” says Vedavyas. “People got a little more free time to themselves and a little more time to introspect.”
The theme and title of the anthology, ‘On the other side’, was created by the LEI Teen Editorial Board, which is made up of 13 high school students who put together submissions of original teenage writing and compile them into a professional publication. Members of the Editorial Board have the chance to learn more about the publishing process and the publishing industry while giving a voice to young people from across the region.
LEI started accepting submissions related to this theme in August 2020 and accepted submissions in December.
It was then up to the editorial board to meet almost every week to decide which contributions to include and where to place them in the anthology.
Ironically, some editors report that it may have been easier for the editorial board to meet online this year, due to the pandemic, as opposed to the usual in-person meetings.
“This is the first time we’ve done an online anthology,” says Anthony Koonce, another teen editor. “Overall, it was easier to collaborate on Google Docs and a little more convenient to meet quickly.”
From the start, this project was created and reviewed by teenagers, with the final version of the anthology then sent to teachers when the LEI was finalized.
“They actually own the project from the start,” says Rosenbluth. “The teens themselves are the ones who collect the work, and then they do the editing with help. “
The teens even made a promo video in November to bring the anthology to teens and explore what this year’s theme might mean to each of them.
For those teens, the beauty of the “The Other Side” theme is that it can mean anything from any vantage point, even to teen editors.
“The pandemic was definitely on my mind,” said teen editor Anothony Koonce. “What’s on the other side of this and these challenges? “
For Vedavyas, however, she drew from her dual national identity both as an Indian and as an American. “I spent half my time in America, half my time in India,” says Vedavyas. “On the other side, it really reminds me of the other country that is on the other side of the world.”
The four chapter titles – “Self and Soul”, “Sense and Experience”, “Struggle and Sorrow”, “Imagination and Euphoria” – show this similar duality of always seeing the other side or perspective of every situation.
Rosenbluth says this is particularly effective from the perspective of adolescents whose lives can be quickly changed on a daily basis, but who are still able to find stability in events that remain the same.
“The whole world is changing,” says Rosenbluth. “[Yet] it’s those other parts that never change, which I think is quite powerful.
The anthology can be purchased starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 22 for $ 12. To celebrate the release, LEI is hosting a virtual reading at The Inkubator via Zoom. Registration is required to attend the reading of the book and can be done at any time before July 22.
The book reading will include an open mic session during which teenage publishers read excerpts from the anthology, and copies of the book will also be sold at the event.
Ultimately, this year’s teen anthology hopes to showcase the perspectives and skills of these young writers.
“This book is also dedicated to those who have words to say and stories to tell”, specifies a dedication in the anthology, “to stories, we are afraid to write the words, we shout from the rooftops stories that make us live. . “