By Cameron Price
In Plainfield, Vermont, the sun is shining (sometimes), the fields are muddy, and the grass is brown. This must mean Spring Residency at Goddard College! Though the pastoral New England landscape was still waking up from a long winter’s nap while we were on campus two weeks ago, the Duende team was in full bloom and hard at work.
First of all, let me set the context for you: our eight-day academic residencies occur twice a year, which means they are the only opportunities we have to meet face-to-face. It goes without saying, then, that our time together is precious and limited. Even so, we managed to accomplish much over the course of the residency.
Our first order of business was to welcome new members to our team: Denise, Lauren, Jørn, Ah-Keisha, Jan, and Jeric (their bios can be found on The Editors section of our website, right under the Who We Are tab). Since the online publication is 100% volunteer and student run, it is quite exciting to witness the interaction between the amorphous nature of our team and the developing identity of the journal. As new Goddard students come to lend their skills to Duende, they bring along fresh talent and insight, thus expanding the concept of what Duende is and what it can be.
The strength of our new group dynamic emerged during our second meeting, when a key issue came up regarding the diversity of the narratives represented by Duende. As mentioned in our previous blog post, one of our newest team members, Jeric Smith, made the observation that journals often subconsciously adopt a homogenous set of narratives. For example, let’s say that the editors of a hypothetical literary journal shared a common socioeconomic, cultural, and educational background. Without meaning to, the editors might gravitate toward selecting submissions with which they felt a sense of familiarity. A lack of awareness of this proclivity can result in a journal that only tells one story. Furthermore, many readers (and potential submitters) might view the content of the journal and decide, based on what they see, that “there isn’t a space for me," thus self-selecting out of sharing art and literature which would advance needed conversations about equality, diversity, privilege, inclusion, and the future of the literary journal in general!
I was grateful for and inspired by the frank, candid, intelligent, and compassionate round-table discussion had by the Duende team around these important questions. During the course of our meeting, we brainstormed ways to ensure that Duende stays committed to being an inclusive, multi-narrative platform where quality art and literature can be accessed.
Though we accomplished a lot of work during residency, there was also fun to be had. On Wednesday night, the bi-annual, student-led reading occurred in the Manor Oak Room. Twinkling lights had been strung along the mantle of the fireplace, creating a gauzy halo around the readers, many of which were our own Duende team members. It was one of those seamless readings that could not have been planned. Serious pieces were balanced with funny ones; there were essays and short stories, sonnets and slam poems, hip-hop songs and radio recordings. It was a meaningful way to reconvene after Duende's intense round-table discussion earlier in the day.
I have high hopes for what the Duende team will accomplish this semester. Now it’s time for us to roll up our sleeves, boot up our computers, and spend the rest of the semester writing posts, video-conferencing, researching, and reading submissions. Despite the space between us, I know we will continue (like last semester) to be a cohesive group, dedicated to the production of a gorgeous and top-of-the-line inaugural issue of Duende.