Twenty-four years ago, five writers met in a small, dusty room to start a literary journal. Sun spilled in through the thin paned windows, animated movements flushed up waves of shining motes, and voices rose to the ceiling like smoke. Blue Mesa Review was born.
At least, that’s how I like to imagine it.
My embellished history of Blue Mesa Review is a bit sentimental because of the eventful existence the journal has had, from its storied origins to its present incarnation, Blue Mesa Review Online Issue #26. The above five founders, Rudolfo Anaya, Gene Frumkin, David Johnson, Patricia Clark Smith and Lee Bartlette originally founded the journal in 1989 to provide a space for Southwest literary innovation, and it is these roots we look to maintain with Issue #26.
After a few years of feeling forgotten by our University (watching our funding trickle down to nothing), as well as the national literary landscape (New Mexico…that’s where they have all that turquoise and desert, right?), the staff at BMR decided to actively preserve the journal’s original mission statement of showcasing established and emerging voices while celebrating our literary and artistic Southwest geography. In this issue, you’ll find poet Jim Daniels and fiction writer Susann Cokal, alongside writers Kelly Hansen Maher and Danny Lorberbaum, among other striking voices. Our poetry, fiction and nonfiction weren’t selected based on an overriding theme; each creative piece was chosen by BMR staff based on merit. But, it became clear in putting the issue together that a kinship existed between these texts. Whether it is an essay about teaching in a Texas border town, or a poem meditating on mouths and mountains, the pieces pulse with a need to explore the multitudinous ways we all communicate.
Appropriately, we are showcasing interviews with two authors who have experienced the highest form of sanctioned silencing. Both Sherman Alexie and Luis J. Rodriguez have seen one or more of their books banned in schools, most recently by the Arizona government. It was our hope in talking to the authors to hear how they came to understand, through reading, their own right to convey their specific experiences and worlds in writing. Both Alexie and Rodriguez articulate the importance of children having access to stories that let them participate in a narrative they recognize and relate to. They also share some darn good advice and stories.
All these pieces can, and should, be accessed and shared freely, thanks to our brand new web format. The staff owes huge thanks to Joey Dehnert, web designer, for making all this possible. Take some time and look at the amazing art from local Albuquerque and national artists that accompany each piece. Make some connections, let us know what you think, and thank you for supporting Blue Mesa Review.