Back in the fall when I was interviewing with Solstice’s Founding Editor Lee Hope and Founding Board Member Bill Betcher for the EIC role, it was evident how committed they were to the magazine’s mission of amplifying diverse voices. This point is worth highlighting. In my 20-year communications career, where I worked with small and large brands alike in advertising, public relations, and marketing roles across various sectors, I encountered many organizations that said they were committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) but only a few actually did the work this commitment requires. To truly be an organization that supports DEI efforts, that work should be reflected internally and it starts with the people who work for and oversee the organization. As a Latina, an immigrant writer and storyteller, giving voice to underrepresented people has been a moral imperative for me. So when Lee and Bill invited me to lead Solstice and shared their vision for how they want to see the magazine grow, I was not only honored to accept but I also saw an opportunity to do more for marginalized voices like mine. Solstice Literary Magazine has been an advocate for diverse voices from the time of its inception almost fifteen years ago, promoting the work of writers from a wide spectrum of backgrounds including (but not limited to) country of origin, race and ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status, and I’m privileged to be a part of this team.
Since taking on the role of EIC in November, I’ve acquired a new respect for independent literary magazines and the work that goes behind the scenes. I’ve learned tremendously in the last few months, I’ve found a great working partner in Annaka Saari, Solstice’s energetic Managing Editor, and everyday I’m inspired and motivated by our contributors and our fabulous team of volunteer readers and editors who generously give their time and talents to ensure the work we publish is of the finest quality and accurately reflects the country’s demographics and lived experiences. This is so important for me as a Latina, and the marketing nerd in me wants to tell you, as an example of this, that the Hispanic/Latine population in the U.S. is 66 million strong with an outstanding buying power exceeding $2 trillion dollars, but sadly, only a fraction of our stories are making it into the literary world. Of course, this statistic is just one example of the richly diverse country we inhabit and how important representation is. Also, in this short time, I’ve been delighted to see our beautiful Winter Print issue come to fruition (please be sure to get a copy!); I’ve been extremely impressed by the caliber of writing from our contributors with Sundress recently selecting Chantel Massey’s poem “Hard Times Require Furious Laughter” (from our Summer 2021 issue) for their 2023 Best of the Net anthology and named Mariya Deykute’s poem “Homecoming” (from our Spring 2022 issue) a finalist; and I’ve had the wonderful chance to meet many Solstice supporters at AWP, some of whom stopped by our booth to personally meet me and welcome me to the team, and a few Latine writers who expressed their satisfaction at seeing a Latina leading a literary magazine.
What’s more, I’ve found great pleasure in editing our Spring 2023 issue, and I’m sure you’ll be delighted to read the beautiful work of our contributors in all genres included here. In particular, I’m ecstatic to welcome Haitian-born poet and author Enzo Silon Surin as our poetry guest editor. When I met Enzo at AWP, I was immediately drawn to his warm personality and his awesome sense of style (looking dapper in salmon red chinos, knit blazer, and button-down shirt). As for our annual Summer Writing Contest, I’m thrilled to share that our submissions period is now open and we at Solstice are tremendously fortunate to have the support of remarkable authors Grace Talusan, Patricia Engel, A. Van Jordan, and Jess Ruliffson who will be judging the nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and graphic lit genres respectively. Our submissions period will be open through June 1 and I hope you’ll send us your best work. More details can be found on our website.
Looking ahead, we have many ideas we’d like to implement and are planning for some exciting changes which we’ll share with you in due time. For now, I want to thank you all for the kindness you have shown me and for your continued support of our magazine which is open to all writers, especially writers on the margins. I have made it my personal goal to push DEI efforts forward with more intention and deeper awareness to deliver on the interest of our mission.
Lorena Hernández Leonard