The Purchase community has long been enriched and uplifted by the generous support of the Durst family. For one, their endowment supports the Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature, which is awarded to a distinguished professor whose work bridges literature and the visual or performing arts. Since 2012, it has also made possible the Durst Distinguished Lecture series, which hosts renowned authors who read their work, share their expertise and offer insight into their creative process – right here on campus. It has helped make the college a hub of literary culture: a place where students can take seminars with Michael Chabon and work on multimedia projects with Claudia Rankine, where community members can hear George Saunders read and chat with Zadie Smith. The series attracts writers of international renown and brings audience members from New York City and beyond. The generosity of the Durst family has been, and continues to be, an incredible gift.
Their support has nourished the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Humanities, and especially the Literature and Creative Writing programs, of which we here at Italics Mine are a part. Ourselves editors, visual artists, poets and writers of prose, we are particularly grateful for the amazing lecturers in the creative world we have had the privilege of learning from, talking to, and forging connections with over the years.
Italics Mine has always functioned as a passionate collective, a creative collaboration, a catalyst for student growth of its own. Since its founding in 2001, the journal has served as a tangible space to showcase the best literary and artistic talent our campus has to offer and has given opportunities for undergraduate students to achieve their very first publications. Simultaneously, production on the journal trains Creative Writing students in new and practical ways. Over the course of a year, writers in the program learn how to be editors; what it takes to publish a journal, to sustain it and grow it, how to respect and handle such an honor while stepping into the power and potential of their roles.
Like so many, this recent past has been challenging and pivotal for Italics Mine. Just over one year ago, as our previous editorship was in the midst of producing Issue 17, we were all suddenly thrust into the digital sphere, displaced from collaborating in person. Budgets froze and the printing factories shut down. Our editors forged on via internet to complete a beautiful issue, though one they were unable to print and pass between hands, run their palms over the thick glossy pages and get close to the vibrant ink.
How increasingly important it has become this year to be able to make something, to make it beautifully, to hold it in our hands. So much of what we used to be able to reach out and touch has seemingly vaporized; or rather, digitized. Many of us have experienced the disorientation, disappointment, and grief of not being able to celebrate years’ worth of hard work, passion, and energy in the traditional ways we would have liked. Whether that was not experiencing the traditional college graduation, postponing a wedding, or rerouting an important project, we have watched things that once felt impermeable, dissolve around us. The contributors who were published last year never got to read their pieces to an audience at our traditional launch event, nor take home their copy of the journal. The distinct editorial teams of Issue 17 and, most recently, Issue 18, weren’t sure if they’d get to see their hard work and growth substantiated into something tangible; until now.
Thanks to this funding from the Durst family, Italics Mine has just published our first ever double issue, comprised of: the new Issue 18 (produced by our first entirely remote staff) and Issue 17, for those who have yet to hold a copy in their hands. The importance of this cannot be overstated. This year’s team managed to turn a lost opportunity into finished product; a chance for closure, perhaps in some way for those involved throughout to heal and move forward – and having that tangible experience, now, wouldn’t have been made possible if not for our donors. We are grateful for the opportunity to share two-years’ worth of writing, art, and dedication, as well as the ability to print more issues going forward.
Empowered by our gift, we are also, as we have been, adapting to the digital landscape, trying new things as a journal and expanding. This support will help us continue to award amazing writers and artists for their work, expand our submissions pool, do additional and more expansive advertising, collaborative projects and outreach, run more contests, and so much more. It will be, and has just now been, especially vital in continuing our print publication.
On behalf of the entire editorial staff at Italics Mine, past, present, and future, we would like to say a sincere and humble Thank You to the Durst family for their continued and unwavering support in the Humanities, and in turn in Italics Mine. We are honored to have the support, and we can’t wait to use it to continue to plant seeds for so many creatives and watch them all grow.