Like many other organizations are now doing, the Long River Review staff turned to technology to host the launch party for the 2020 edition of the University of Connecticut’s literary journal. Long River Review Editor-in-Chief Anna Zarra Aldrich (who also serves as the editor-in-chief of The Daily Campus) hosted the event on Zoom Tuesday evening.
In her opening remarks, Aldrich explained the theme of this year’s literary magazine and encouraged attendees to move passionately toward their “next.”
“This Long River Review was guided by the mantra of ‘Next, not now,’” Aldrich said. “The idea of ‘next’ inspired us to find the pieces we think people will be reading next as opposed to what they’re reading right now.”
Aldrich said that the editors grappled with what exactly “next” was. They decided that next can be a story that’s never been told before, a story told by a new voice or a story that is inventive in its form.
“Ultimately we concluded that something was next if it had the ability to make the reader think about a familiar world in a new way,” Aldrich said.
The event continued with readings by authors from various genres. Rhianna Bennett and Ryan Amato read excerpts from their fiction; Michael Goldman and Carrina LaCorata read from their translations; Theresa Legein, Lili Fishman, Elliot Hopwood and Aner Bajraktarevic read poetry. The literary magazine’s creative nonfiction reader was unable to attend the release.
Throughout the evening, attendees made use of Zoom’s chat feature to share messages of encouragement with each other. Many remarked that readings were “amazing,” “incredible” or “awesome.” Some even wrote “snap snap snap” after poetry readings to mimic the snapping that occurs at in-person poetry performances.
— Long River Review (@UConn_LRR) April 28, 2020
After the readings, attendees were encouraged to ask questions to readers or editors about the readings or the journal itself. English Professor Darcie Dennigan, who supervised this year’s Long River Review staff, asked a question to the poets about how their work might differ when read on a page instead of read aloud. Bajraktarevic responded that some poems that have certain structural features usually work better written out, and Hopwood said that as a member of Poetic Release (a spoken word poetry club), he writes many poems to be spoken and often doesn’t even think about how they might come across on the page.
Aldrich then asked a question of the translation readers. She wanted to know more about the process of translating various works. LaCorata said that she typically writes a rough draft of the essential meaning of a piece and then goes back to write precise translations and clarify cultural context. On the other hand, Goldman said that translating for him was like being an actor and figuring out the tone and diction the piece’s author would use if they spoke English.
Before staff, readers and guests exited the party, Aldrich asked to get a group picture with everyone. Many turned on their cameras as Aldrich took screen shots of the almost 50 attendees. She thanked staff, readers and guests for attending the “unconventional” release party before people began to sign off the call.
Though a print version of the Long River Review is usually available for purchase during the journal’s release party, the current pandemic has delayed the printing. Aldrich said that print copies should be available in August or September but that readers can still engage with the literary magazine’s content on their website or listen to their podcast “NEXT not NOW” on Spotify.
Stephanie Santillo is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.