Continuing from our Summer "Self-Love" theme, our staff decided to celebrate love in its other forms, settling on the theme of "Love for Others" for the Fall 2021 issue. Over the past year and a half, many have been placed in situations where they were unable to spend time with loved ones, missing out on friendly gatherings, family get-togethers, and romantic getaways. Bonds between people were tested by distance. We decided that, in addition to taking the time to remember the importance of loving oneself, we also wanted everyone to take a moment to think about those that they love. From our perspective, this particular theme is especially important as we enter into the holiday season in the Fall and beginning of winter -- Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, to name a few. The holiday season is a time where we often seek to be closest to friends, family, and other loved ones.
In selecting "Love for Others" as our theme, we thought about the definition and worked to ensure that all forms of love are included in our theme. Loving others outside of ourselves does not only apply to romantic relationships but to platonic friendships, familial love, and even a love for community. In addition, while love is often considered in its positive forms, we acknowledge that sometimes, this is not the case. Loss of a loved one or loving someone despite hardships are both just as important as the lighter feelings of love and friendship. We hope to see all sorts of different forms of love through the art, poetry, and prose pieces submitted to this issue. In keeping in line with our mission, we also hope that our Fall theme, "Love for Others" will resonate with everyone, including those from marginalized communities. We believe that this is a theme that impacts all writers and artists around the world, and we wish to use our platform to allow everyone to show their love.
Following our final decisions, the accepted works passed through our copy-editing phase, along to our small volunteer design team. Although our Summer 2021 Self-Love Issue is only our third virtual launch, our design team members have started becoming more comfortable with the overall format of our digital issues. In preparing what we hope is a visually pleasing, easy to use website, we designed the format for the current Summer Issue with three different viewing methods in mind. The first method is from the initial table of contents, where readers and viewers can select the specific piece they would like to enjoy from the table of contents and be taken directly to that piece. Our second viewing method was designed for those who might be interested in one specific genre; by clicking on the genre on any of our issue's pages, a viewer can be taken to a page that allows them to scroll through all accepted pieces in that genre without having to access each one individually. Finally, our third viewing method is for those who wish to browse the entire issue in one continuous page, which can be accessed via the "View All" button on any of the pages in the issue. In this way, we hope to provide options to our viewers so that everyone can enjoy the issue in whichever way suits them the best.
On August 14th, we not only launched our Summer 2021 Issue, which can, at the time of writing, be found under the "Current Issue" tab and will later be permanently available under our "Archives" tab, we also held our virtual launch event in the form of a casual coffee hour. Our event was held as a celebration of the authors and artists who were published in our issue, but it also celebrated our self-love theme and provided a relaxed environment where contributors, staff members, and other attendees could talk about writing, art, and the various experiences and inspirations we've had. Our virtual launch, held via Zoom, is something we, at Penumbra Online, enjoy hosting as a celebration of each new issue we publish. It provides us with an opportunity to meet new people and expand our creative circle. For those who missed our Summer event, we will begin work on our Fall 2021 Issue soon, and everyone is, of course, welcome to attend our Fall event when it takes place. For every issue, we strive to further our development and create something that brings enrichment and enjoyment to our audience.
This summer the Penumbra Online staff met and the first topic of conversation was this edition’s theme. While there were many potential themes that felt relevant, when the theme of self-love came up it just felt right. After the year we have all had we wanted to promote a positive, yet real edition. While all forms of love are important the truth is self-love is often overlooked and underappreciated. With this in mind, our staff decided to have self-love be our series theme. As a staff, we made sure to take the time to really define what self-love looks like. We were interested in receiving authentic and raw glimpses of self-love (and we were not disappointed). During the creation of this edition, we learned a lot about ourselves and what we consider to be self-love. What we found is that self-love is not about “self-care” trips to the spa or time alone in a man cave. Real interpretations of self-love are not as simple as one small act of self-care; instead self-love calls for introspection and acceptance. This can take time and more often than not it is a lifelong journey for many of us to find ways to properly love ourselves. After a year where we all just tried to survive, we wanted to take the time to spotlight the only way any of us can really thrive; through loving and honoring ourselves. As a staff we were excited to choose self-love as our theme and as submissions came in we were blown away by the power behind words of self-love.
While considered by many to be a “buzzword”, self-love is for everyone. That aspect of this concept is what caught our team’s eye. After having put together editions last summer and fall that showcased work by Black creatives, we were applauded but also challenged by the feedback, feedback which, frankly, wondered if this spurt of inclusivity was more performative than genuine. As a journal that’s based on a minority serving college campus, we wanted to prove our dedication and commitment to the fight and to the amplification of the voices of those who are often marginalized. Along this same thread, we also wanted to make it clear that while self-love is often commoditized in the present day as this always positive and upbeat journey (think social media influencers), it was important to us to word our call in a way that welcomed the real and valid struggle that those working to feel truly comfortable with themselves can sometimes face. It’s not all poetry and rainbows and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of pieces that acknowledged and ran with that idea.
Art and literature are becoming more and more inclusive everyday. Those in marginalized communities, whether that be via an ethnic group or the LGBTQIA+ community, are working to share their experiences, both good and bad. This speaking out helps the audience and the creative in their respective healing processes, and, after the whirlwind of a year we as a society are still clawing our way out of, we at Penumbra Online wanted to use our platform in a way that honors and contributes to that movement. All voices are valid and deserve to be heard, and we hope that the pieces in this summer’s edition will help some of you work towards the necessary level of healing for you.
Autumn Andersen and Bobbi Solano