My friends at the Charlotte Center for Literary Arts (more commonly known as Charlotte Lit) regularly send out a newsletter. While reading a recent issue of this newsletter, I noticed an announcement about the publication of the inaugural issue of Litmosphere: Journal of Charlotte Lit. I remember when Charlotte Lit announced the plans for this journal about a year ago. In fact, I wrote a Storied Charlotte blog post about it. I was pleased then, and I am even more pleased now that this new literary journal is an actual reality. I contacted Charlotte Lit co-founders Kathie Collins and Paul Reali and asked them for more information about the inaugural issue. They kindly provided me with a write-up, which they titled “Leaping into the Litmosphere.” Here is what they sent to me:
We spent much of last summer making sure all systems were go for our brand new Lit/South writing contest and the inaugural issue of Litmosphere: Journal of Charlotte Lit. This month, just as our graphic designer Mabry Busby and intern Conner Lindsay are putting the finishing touches on the web version of that first issue, the entire Charlotte Lit team is getting ready to do it again.
Submissions for this year’s contest open September 1, which means the team is spending August reflecting on last year’s contest and journal experience as we prepare to announce a new slate of judges for 2023.
The 2022 contest received more than 450 submissions across four categories. The team, including editor Michael Dowdy, spent winter break whittling down that pile of excellent entries into finalists, then sent them on to a stellar group of judges who selected the first, second, and third place winners and honorable mentions whose work would grace the first issue—48 pieces from 40 writers. We think the entire issue is worth reading, but we’d call to your readers’ attention to these:
- Dustin M. Hoffman, who has now joined the Charlotte Lit faculty, topped the fiction category with “This Picture of Your House.”
- Aime Whittemore’s “The Peony” won the poetry category. She also earned an honorable mention for “If No One Opens Us, We’ll Thirst.”
- Karen Salyer McElmurray’s “In Varanasi” took the nonfiction category.
- Amber Wheeler Bacon’s “The Damage” won the flash category, and her “General Sorrows” received an honorable mention.
- Junious “Jay” Ward’s “Imagine Me” placed second in poetry—just a couple of months before he was named Charlotte’s inaugural poet laureate.
Each of our judges contributed a piece of their own, so Litmosphere also features fantastic work from Ron Rash, Nickole Brown, Jessica Jacobs, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, and Tara Campbell.
We’re not sure we fully understood what we were embarking on when we started, and what twists and turns it would take. We were just reading back on Storied Charlotte’s coverage of the Lit/South Awards last August and were reminded of one of those twists. We had spent hours brainstorming and Googling to decide on a name for the contest and journal. After we’d opened entries and were actively promoting that name, we discovered it was not available after all: someone was using that name for a few self-published books. But it turned out to be a gift: Lit/South and Litmosphere are far better names than what we’d first chosen.
So, seemingly just after we’ve shipped out 450 Litmosphere copies across the country, we’re just a month away from opening up entries for the 2023 awards. There’s not much time to rest on any laurels, but we hope the work endures, and are happy to help the winning writers to find readers.
I congratulate Kathie, Paul, and everyone associated with the launching of Charlotte Lit’s new literary journal. This impressive debut issue is a valuable addition to Storied Charlotte’s literary atmosphere, which is also known as Litmosphere.