The submission guidelines for “Tidal Echoes,” the literary and arts journal sponsored by the University of Alaska Southeast, are simple and few: live in Southeast Alaska and be creative.
“Pretty much anything artsy and creative, we’ll take it,” said Elizabeth Rumfelt, this year’s senior editor of the journal. She has spent the better part of a semester sifting through more than 300 submissions, editing the pieces that she and her junior editor, India Busby, accepted, and compiling them into the novel-length journal that they send to print.
“One of the best parts of being editor is compiling them all and ordering them so that the journal reads like a book,” Rumfelt said. She and Busby noticed that there were many submissions which related to the seasons. Rumfelt came up with the idea to structure this edition of the journal according to the progression of the year.
There’s no overarching theme, however, which is a common misconception about what can be included in “Tidal Echoes.” While submitters must be full-time residents of Southeast Alaska, submissions don’t necessarily have to be related to the experience of living here.
“You can write about anything. Honestly, we like the diversity,” Rumfelt said. “We get a lot of submissions about going for hikes and seeing wildlife so it’s really cool to get work that you’ve never read before.”
One of the short stories in the journal, for example, is about ghosts. Another submission contained Polaroids. The senior and junior editors try to ensure that future editions of the journal receive a diversity of material.
The people who sent in their art and their writing were diverse as well; while most of the submitters were either students or seniors, voices from the rest of Southeast and from Lemon Creek Correctional Center were included in the mix. Submission guidelines list almost every commonly-accepted creative medium, and encourage submitters to think outside the box.
Every edition has a featured writer and a featured artist intended to inspire readers. Alongside their work, each has an interview discussing their creative process as well as the included pieces. This year’s featured writer is Vivian Faith Prescott, co-writer of the column “Planet Alaska,” author of “The Dead Go To Seattle,” “Sludge,” and “Slick,” and recipient of the Andy Hope Literary Award. She was born and raised in Wrangell and lives there with her extended family. She is of Samí, Finnish, and Irish descent and was adopted into the T’akdeintaan clan and given the Tlingit name “Mother of Cute Little Raven.”
“The topics she writes about are really unique and it’s a voice that we’ve been trying to get into the journal for a while now,” Rumfelt said about Prescott. “Having her as our featured writer will hopefully influence future submitters to write about some new topics.”
Prescott’s work in “Tidal Echoes,” which includes a micro story and several types of poems, covers a wide and unique array of topics. Her writing talks about everything from indigenous identity, endangered languages, climate change and salmon, to Wrangell history and bisexuality. Some of her poetry included in the journal responds to the need for more LGBT+ voices.
“I submitted poems that carry a bit of my story about having come out to the public recently as bi and also raising a daughter who’s gay,” Prescott said about which pieces she chose to submit to “Tidal Echoes.”
Prescott has been writing both poetry and prose since the sixth grade, but she says that she didn’t find her voice until she was in her mid to late 30s.
“More likely, I became less afraid of allowing people to read my work. But, for me, being brave is an ongoing practice.”
Bravery, and its close cousin fear, are what Prescott intends to talk about during the “Tidal Echoes” launch.
“I want to address students since UAS is my Alma mater. I quit high school at 15 years old and didn’t start college until I was in my mid-30s. I went from a GED to a PhD in the University of Alaska system: UAS, UAF, and UAA. UAS helped make me the writer that I am.”
The featured artist for the 2018 edition is Christofer Taylor, an art professor at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, and instructor and previous artistic coordinator for The Canvas Art Studio. His art has been shown in solo and group exhibits in California and Colorado. His book “Silo: Works by Christofer Charles Taylor,” published through local Ice Fog Press, showcases a collection of his drawings and paintings.
“Christofer Taylor’s art is different from anything I’ve seen. It’s not abstract, it’s actually based on bodies and figures, but there’s a lot of color and there’s a lot of brush strokes. The way he works is in layers,” Rumfelt said.
Taylor submitted 20 pieces to the journal but which ones the editors picked, he said, will be a surprise. He submitted drawings and paintings from six different series that he created over 10 years. His series typically contain 12-15 paintings, all focused on the human figure.
Taylor’s process of beginning a painting is complex and time-intensive. Before he sets brush to canvas, he hires models, selects a location relevant to what he wants to convey, and then spends hours or even days coming up with his plan of “attack.” From there he creates a rough sketch, spends a day mixing colors to just the right hue, and finally begins to paint.
“Every series that I create is a piece of myself, my aesthetic, and my choices frozen in time,” Taylor said. “I know a piece is done when I can stand in front of it and stare at it without being moved to make a mark. I can just take it in as it is.”
Taylor’s talk during the “Tidal Echoes” launch will focus on his technical narrative, explaining his artistic process in greater depth. He also intends to talk about how he has grown as an artist over his 20 years of creating art.
“I am trimming the fat and sharpening my speed talking skills,” he said.
The 2018 edition of “Tidal Echoes” will launch on Friday, April 20, 7 p.m., in the University of Alaska Southeast Egan Lecture Hall. The event will have a slideshow of the various pieces of artwork throughout, and it will start with speeches from both the senior and junior editors about the experiences working on the journal. Taylor will speak about his art, followed by readings from Prescott, and there will be a Q&A segment with both of them. A selection of readers will present their submitted pieces, including some who are flying in to Juneau just for the occasion.
Rumfelt encourages the entire community to participate in the event, but especially students who think they might be interested in doing a “Tidal Echoes” internship in the future or making editing their career.
“Before I became junior editor I went to the launch in 2016. I was so inspired seeing students give their speeches and talk about their experience as editor,” Rumfelt said. “It’s more of a mindset — I get to do this, not I have to do this. It’s a really cool privilege to read people’s work and compile it and tell people ‘Hey, you’re published in a journal and I want to congratulate you.’”
Disclaimer: Capital City Weekly Editor Clara Miller was the fall intern for the 2015 edition of Tidal Echoes.
• Jack Scholz is the Capital City Weekly intern.