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
Jessica Charest is an editor for Penumbra Online, as well as the Summer and Fall 2021 Penumbra Social Media Manager. She graduated with her M.A. in Literature from Stan State in Spring 2020.