To the Tremendous Future
The following is Versal founding editor Megan M. Garr‘s editorial introduction to their recently released 10th anniversary issue, Versal 10. Click this link for a snazier-looking PDF page spread of the editorial from issue 10. Trailer for the issue below.
For a time, when I was very young, I had a quiet preoccupation with lighthouses (this would have been somewhat due to the 1977 Walt Disney film Pete’s Dragon). I was intrigued by their loneliness, and that in contrast with their inherently social charge. Even today, I will visit an abandoned lighthouse given the chance, boring though such tourist spots may be. But set at the boundary where sea and land converge, the lighthouse fixed itself in my young mind as my first metaphor, a personification of who I wanted to become and the site of where I thought the world’s honesty could be glanced.
I can only guess that the lighthouse took hold as a way to understand my parents’ teachings, their commitment to the world, and the loneliness that seemed to come with that. My mother’s spiritus, my father’s activism—combined, theirs was a model of wide-reaching, if to some extent solitary, personal responsibility. A model that said, Your greatest act is the beauty you choose to bring the world. We must all exist, and we must choose to.
In these ten years I have come to understand that the most valuable currency for a literary journal is willpower.
It is with breathtaking force of will that we exist, that we not only exist but that we continue, in this wondrous but often too-severe world. The collective willpower of our humanity, of our art, and of our drive to protect both, comes together in pages like these. And so, the literary journal is publishing’s ode to that willpower, a repeating signal in the expanse: we are still here, we are still working. And I have come to understand that it is an editor’s role to sound this signal—with its declarations and reports, sceneries and alarms. To prepare the signal, then send it out.
Literary journals are probably more often viewed as artifacts than as literature’s signal towers, and much less as the enduring arts themselves. Journals are commonly cited among an era’s curiosities, the time capsules of a culture’s leanings, the epicenters and records of social movements. After all, we have so many manifestos. And of course: I too would like to be looked back upon. A literary journal needs an editor and an editor needs an ego. Coming to grips with its necessity has been a secondary, in fact more confronting, practice as I have grown into Versal’s masthead—I am, after all, in the ancestral company of men, the booming statues of literary history, deserved carvings or not.
In just a matter of months, we will cast out again and widely for the documents of the world. Ten will move on to eleven. I sometimes wonder when a Versal will be our last, but today I am not concerned. Whether you are reading this now or ten years from now, you will know that we looked hard upon our world. That we attempted to record its failure and splendor. That we gave it the grace and ground for both. For these pages are evidence of our greatest acts—by breathtaking will.