Over the last couple months of blogs, a few of the new editors have hit on the recurring theme of looking back at the roots of Blue Mesa Review with our founder Rudolfo Anaya’s original vision for the magazines in mind. I’ve been thinking about how to pull in a renewed focus on the Southwest while transitioning from Managing Editor to Associate Editor. I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about home. What that looks like. What it feels like. The types of stories that represent the feeling of a place more as a character than as a backdrop.
For me, the heart of the heart of the country is the open road. It’s most vivid in low elevations with high humidity, rolling hills with expansive dreams misplaced in the burgeoning farmlands of the Midwest. It’s where I was born and raised, but I know it doesn’t look the same to everyone. I see it everywhere I go: in the high desert of Albuquerque as a roadrunner plucks a lizard from the side of a house and darts across Ridgecrest; in the reservoir streaked with sunlight along the Willamette National Forest at dawn in Oregon; in the closed maw of an alligator patiently waiting for a visitor at the Alachua Sink in Florida. In the Southwest, home is in the Sandia sunsets, golden hour clipped with hues of orange and pink like scoops of sherbet in a Tupperware bowl, flecked with watermelon seeds of trees all across the mountains. No matter where you’re from, where you’re going, you can see it, feel it, smell it, if you slow down to let it wash over you. And that’s what I want to read in your work, whether poetry, nonfiction, or fiction. Work whose electric breath radiates a new pulse through my fingertips as my hands rest on the keyboard while I read your submission. Work that tells your story with specificity, like what it means to hear your neighbor blast ”Jumper” by Third Eye Blind at 7:00 am every Sunday morning, stories that speak multitudes. Honest work that balances the dark and light parts of who you are and what you’ve experienced.
As the new Associate Editor, I take care of a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes at Blue Mesa Review. Like last year, I’ll design the new issues of the magazine and create other flyers and promotional material (for the Works in Progress Reading Series in Albuquerque and our table at AWP San Antonio this Spring). I’ll manage and maintain the website, and alongside Ari McGuirk, curate blogs that speak to the Southwest, Literature, Politics, and the landscape where all of these intersect. I’ll read the work you submit as I think about how to best design an issue that reflects the nuances of the work we’ll publish.
I’m also drumming up new ideas for the 30th Anniversary of Blue Mesa Review. If you’ve been following our social media accounts, you’ll already know that we’ve been touring some of the Little Free Libraries around Albuquerque, dropping off back issues of the magazine. And this week, while on a trek back to my homeland in the Midwest to kick up memories for my creative work, I’ve brought a little piece of the Southwest with me. If you can’t make it to Albuquerque to catch the sun set off the Sandias and grab a back issue, you may still be in luck, because I’ll be dropping some off in Little Free Libraries along the way (as far East as Lafayette, Indiana, and as far North as Richland Center, Wisconsin). Make sure you’re following us on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook to see if you might be able to pick up a copy of Blue Mesa Review in your own town.
Lastly, don’t forget to submit your work! We only have a few weeks left of our Summer Contest judged by Jake Skeets, Lesley Arimah, and Francisco Cantú. To get an idea of what we’ve published previously and what we might be looking for, make sure to read over the editor blogs that we’ve been publishing since June first, pick up a back issue from a Little Free Library near you, or check out our most recent publications on our website.