Tuesday, September 23, 2008

‘Creative Expressions’ is ideal outlet

For about half a year now, the Lake County Record-Bee has published “Creative Expressions” in some of our Saturday editions. This is a project organized by local writers Mary McMillan, our Lake County poet laureate; Sandra Wade, our immediate past poet laureate; and local writer Lourdes Thuesen. They solicit original works of poetry and prose, they make the final selections and then send them to me to lay out on the page.

“Creative Expressions” began its appearances on a once-a-month basis and then, as more submissions came in, its editors increased it to twice a month on the second and fourth Saturday. Look for a “Creative Expressions” in your paper this Saturday.

McMillan, Wade and another writer, Richard Schmidt, first approached us with this idea, but to me it made perfect sense. For the 11 years I have lived here, I have thought that Lake County is tremendously blessed with a lot of artistic riches: Lake County Arts Council, Clear Lake Performing Arts, Lake County Repertory Theater and Lakeport Community Players. We have our own poet laureate and our own Lake County Symphony.

Lake County abounds with talented authors and artisans, musicians and performers. The Soper-Reese Community Theatre recently opened its doors between phases of remodeling to provide a local venue to in-county and visiting performers.

Through my work with the Clear Lake Observer American and the Lake County Record-Bee, I have put a lot of effort into networking with local artistic nonprofits to make sure this creative variety is reflected in the papers’ coverage. Nonprofits responded with enthusiasm when invited to submit press releases for a weekly section in the newspaper that is dedicated to local arts. I invite them to continue sending stories and announcements to arts@record-bee.com.

From time to time, however, writers would approach us wanting us to publish their poetry but the limitations of the medium made it very difficult to do. Narrow column widths wreck havoc with the line breaks in a poem when you have to squeeze the poem in among other stories.

One of the ways I tried to accommodate the occasional submitter of poetry was to run his or her poem as a letter to the editor in the Observer American. Or if I was publishing an article about a poet, I would include a short poem as a sample of his or her work.

But as far as creative short fiction went, there was really no place for it in the pages of the newspaper -- until “Creative Expressions,” that is. Sometime in newspapers’ history, the printing of fiction pieces, like the serialized novels of Charles Dickens, fell out of traditional practices.

So with this addition to the Record-Bee, I’m very pleased to be involved in one more project that showcases local creativity. If you would like your work considered for an edition of “Creative Expressions,” please submit it to mtmcmillan@mac.com. Submissions are limited to 700 words within the body of an e-mail.

A special segment will showcase junior writers who are age 18 and younger. Please send your original work, with “CE Youth Submission” in the subject line, to poetryshared@yahoo.com. The poem or story must be 400 words or less. Please include your name, age and the town you live in. CE youth submissions must be received by Wednesday, Oct. 8.

Published Sept. 23, 2008 in the Lake County Record-Bee

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