Feels Blind Literary, Issue #3

Spring 2020

Modern Ophelia

Johanna Meehan

I’m not going to try to hide my excitement over the release of Issue #3 of Feels Blind Literary. A lot of this pride comes from our journey. We just celebrated our first birthday and during this past year we have grown exponentially. Though we’ve published three issues, there were moments in the beginning when I wasn’t always sure we’d make it. As a literary magazine that was new to the scene, submissions for Issue #1 were slow. They were so slow, in fact, we extended our deadline twice because we didn’t want to publish work that didn’t match our vision. But the first piece we accepted, Michelle Zamanian’s “Clockwise,” pretty much set the tone for us going forward. This was the kind of work we were looking for. This was the kind of work that made our hearts sing.

 

Once Issue #1 was out in the world and people could see and understand our aesthetic, things moved fast. We received fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and plays from near and far. Some of the writers were innovative and emerging, while others were well-established and we counted our lucky stars they thought of us. To give you an idea of the sheer volume of submissions we received while reading for Issue #2, over sixty plays arrived in our inbox during a single afternoon. We found ourselves in the position of having to turn down work we loved, but this made us even prouder of the work we were able to elevate. During this time, we also launched our First Annual DIY Prize and ultimately featured in Issue #2 alongside our other amazing contributors the work of our runner-up and winner, Devon Balwit and Karen Krolak.  

 

Issue #3 reflects the ways we continue to grow and change. We made the decision to dedicate this issue to playwrighting, as we continued receiving a high volume of quality scripts and theater was and always will be my first love. I interviewed the inimitable Neeley Gossett, a playwright and the co-founder of Found Stages. The plays we selected challenged us as readers to examine our world, but also to envision something better. Diana Burbano interrogates what it means to be an activist, while Rachel Carnes examines female representation in works of art. K.C. King and Emily McClain posit important questions surrounding gentrification and the othering of culture’s outside of our own. Shelli Pentimall Bookler puts the media’s response to violence against women under the microscope, while Mary Caroline Rogers explores the ways gun violence impacts long-term mental health. Some of these scripts made us laugh. Others made us cry. All of these scripts we knew we would publish before we reached their final lines. 

 

While the idea for Feels Blind first emerged following the 2016 election and Trump’s presidency has been far worse than I ever imagined, I am thrilled we have been able to celebrate voices of dissent in such a tangible way, turning something so negative into something so hopeful. I’m equally proud of how our tent continues to grow. We recently launched 40 Over 40 and we will be highlighting one female-identifying writer or artist per week for the last 40 weeks of 2020 who is killing it, producing interesting work and building community in significant ways. The nominations we already are receiving are giving me life. We’ve been getting tons of cool art, including Johanna Meehan and Mariah Neumaier’s pieces featured in Issue #3. Many publications we admire shared the love and gave us shout-outs. We launched a Twitter and an Instagram (with monthly playlists!) to go alongside our OG Facebook. We brought on to our team new literary interns, a team that includes some of my very best friends and favorite people. We’re planning a big party for RVA Lit Walk in April and we’re already open for submissions for Issue #5 slated to launch this summer. That is not a typo. Perhaps our biggest announcement is that Issue #4 will be a Best of Anthology featuring work from Issues 1-3 in print.

Thank you to all of the writers and artists who continue to trust us with their stories. We’ve enjoyed getting to know you better over the past year and we can’t wait to see who we meet during our next spin around the sun. XO, Lindsay