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The Making of a Literary Magazine at Laguna High School
By Gianna De Persiis Vona
“Dude, Where’s My Pencil”, “Vacant Cranium”, “Tattooed Memories”, “World on Fire”, “Deadly Season”, “Floating in a Tin Can”, and now “Intrusive Thoughts”—the names of issues of the Laguna High School Literary Magazine are many, and storied. The classroom arguments, at times, can be bitter—the titles, shamefully bad. Yet, most often we laugh, and we persist. We can spend two months, or more, generating titles until we finally arrive at our top contenders, that will then be voted on by all members of the two creative writing classes. Some of our rejected titles include “The Hairless Cat”, “The Depressing Press”, and “Cat Milk”. There have been hundreds of others, far too many to name.
I inherited the job of creating the Laguna High School Literary Magazine from the English teacher who came before me, and she inherited it from the English teacher who came before her, and so on. When it was my turn, the Laguna Literary Magazine took on the form of the chapbook. My friend, Jampa Dorje, taught me how to make them years ago, along with the belief that when we put our writing into a handmade book, the creating of the book gives our work meaning and value. There is no need to seek anything further. There is the creating of the book, and the writing that goes into the book. If people read the book, that’s wonderful, but we have already given our work value by, in a sense, framing it.
The Fall 2022 issue of the Laguna Literary Magazine was recently released. Students and staff drank hot chocolate, ate petit cinnamon buns, and chatted while browsing our latest literary feat. There was a lot to take in. This newest issue contains lines like: “To a certain extent I can still say I love the blaring noise of life, but from a distance”, “From the top of that book shelf, I felt like a giant”, “I wouldn’t change how I dress for the society I live in, because it’s my culture”, and, “For a long time afterward, I was so afraid of the looming possibility I’d feel that way again.”
When we pick up our pens in creative writing class, we don’t expect greatness. In fact, most of us feel relief when we can write anything at all. We have our good writing days, and our bad writing days, as all writers do. Many days we don’t consider ourselves to be writers at all. Yet, there’s a line in the current issue of the Literary Magazine that says, “We’ll have to accept that Earth will not be a home for us much longer.” Which proves that though, to the untrained eye, we may not appear to be getting much writing done, we are, in fact, getting writing done—in that strange, spasmodic, and mysterious way that writing always gets done. Unpredictable and sudden.
Students come to Laguna High School because they need a smaller, alternative learning environment in order to thrive—and for decades this community, and the West Sonoma County Union High School District, have understood this, and have supported and loved our school. Our Literary Magazine is a product of this support—Rotary grants help fund our color covers, Sprint Copy Center of Sebastopol deals with our tight deadlines and always offers a printing discount, and our district continues to find ways to support our program. This is what communities, and adults, and teachers do. We support young people. We are doing our job—a job that we love. What the Laguna High School creative writing students do is something else, entirely. Even when writing doesn’t come easy, when there’s nothing about it that feels like second nature, and it’s vulnerable and scary, these students show up, they open their notebooks, and they write.
To protect our authors, the Laguna Literary Magazine is only available in hardcopy form, and can be picked up in the office of our Forestville campus.
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