Barstow & Grand Comes at the Write Time
As I write this in my office at Volume One, the literary event of the year is taking place inside the gallery in The Local Store below me. It’s the Chippewa Valley Book Festival, and on this night it features the release event for Barstow & Grand, a new literary journal whose first peer-reviewed issue features work from two-dozen writers of poetry and prose. They’re a lucky bunch, because months ago more than 100 people submitted 300 works in hopes of being included. Now tonight, in excess of 120 people have packed into our humble space to listen to the story of the journal’s origin and hear readings from half of those included in its first edition. The energy and support is strong, and as the writers’ words bounce from the walls of our 135-year-old building, the literary community is aglow. That’s largely due to the efforts of my good friend and an original Volume One contributor, Eric Rasmussen, a writer and Eau Claire Memorial English teacher. He recognized the enormous growth of Eau Claire’s writing community over the last few years, thanks in large part to the work of many people inside the relatively new Chippewa Valley Writers Guild, led by another good friend, UW-Eau Claire professor and prolific local author B.J. Hollars. Seeing the energy build, Rasmussen gathered a team of talented editors and placed a bet that the community was ready for a proper community-focused literary journal – a project that could help local writers gain experience submitting their work for review and could elevate the writing community in a new way. By witnessing the scene here tonight, it’s clear his bet will pay off. And with that, the area’s writing community will grow once again, with generations of writers both new and old mingling on paper and in person. To me, it’s just another lesson in the increased level of interest and support available here to those who choose to create something new. Here’s to whatever the next thing will be.
Copies of Barstow & Grand are available at The Local Store for $10.