Penumbra's co-editors-in-chief reflect on the making of this year's annual literary magazine.
From Kavya Krishnamurthy:
I joined Penumbra as a freshman and was amazed and excited about the quality of the pieces we read. There was something very powerful about so many students sending in their art. The pieces were personal. The act of submitting was brave.
Sitting around a table, quietly reading submissions was magic. I thought, how beautiful.
This year I had the privilege to be a co-editor-in-chief of Penumbra, and our vision for the book was different from that of past editors. We wanted the book to be warm and sweet, and we wanted it to look more handmade.
As a writer myself, reading the submissions this year has been delightful and devastating all at once. Penumbra reflects the emotional climate of GFA, and our submissions this year held pain, joy, and everything in between. A teacher once told me that sometimes all we can do about internal darkness is give voice to it. Sometimes giving voice to darkness is the most important thing to do. The book is also full of delight and humor and brilliant observation, and I'm forever thankful for the opportunity to appreciate the talent at our school.
We've worked really hard on Penumbra this year, and I think its design reflects the editors’ tastes: kind of quirky and sentimental. The design of the book matches the tone of the pieces. The pieces don’t wrap up the entire range of human emotion in a perfect package. They expose complexity and confusion. There’s a rawness to them. And because they aren’t artificially sweetened, because they are authentic and human, we can relate to them. We can find warmth, community, and faith.
From Menna Delva:
I joined Penumbra my freshman year of high school, not knowing much about the club except that Kavya spoke so vehemently about it. That year, I submitted three poems thinking at least one of them was good enough to make it in the book.To my dismay, none of them were selected. I was completely demoralized at the dedication ceremony after not hearing my name called in the list of contributors. I thought I could never be capable of producing meaningful poetry.
Flash forward to now: I am honored to be the co-editor of Penumbra. And I can confidently say my writing has improved substantially. What distinguished my writing from freshman year to my writing now is authenticity. I no longer write about things that I believe will sound the most poetically beautiful. Now I only allow my heart to guide my work.
Authenticity is so present in this year's publication of Penumbra. Reading the submissions was like embarking on a voyage of emotional discovery; there's so much pain, truth and light that our community has shared with us. I believe writing is the most sacred form of catharsis we have and I owe so much gratitude to Penumbra — for giving us a space to create stories driven by our sufferings, our joys, our raw humanity.
So if your piece was not chosen for this year's publication of Penumbra, I encourage you to hold your faith — to keep writing and to keep submitting and to keep sharing your art with the world. I promise, it will connect with someone.