The High Desert Journal recently released its 12th issue. This biannual literary magazine continues to focus on its mission statement of "dedicating itself to further understanding the people, places and issues of the interior West" though in my opinion, the journal is going off in new and exciting areas that may have seemed absent in earlier issues.
When I spoke with editor Elizabeth Quinn about the surprises contained in the glossy, full-color pages, she highlighted several authors, both local and regional, that help make this issue more forward moving, and thinking. One of our state's favorite poets, Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen, has two poems in this issue. Her work always contains that surprise or turn-of-phrase that demands further readings. The poem "Speak, harsh land" by 18-year-old poet Nathaniel Dunaway, who was discovered through The Nature of Words, also appears in issue 12.
Quinn continued, "Excerpts from Ursula K LeGuin and Roget Dorband's new poetry and photography book are also in the issue. There is a profile by editor Charles Finn on Dennis Jenkin, the U of O archaeologist who has discovered the oldest human (coprolites) remains in North America. The issue also has paintings by an 83-year-old painter from Portland, Ellen McFadden, and an excerpt from Loren Irving's beautiful and provocative photography project, "Finding Fremont."
Being the managing editor of a regional journal that continues to sustain itself is no easy task. Having previously helmed the publication mostly on her own, Quinn recently brought Finn into the mix to serve as editor, while she takes on the role of managing editor.
When I asked how the journal continues to thrive in this economy, Quinn answered, "Each issue takes on its own distinct character. We at HDJ hold to our belief that cultural resources of the interior West are vastly un-mined and each time we go digging, the resources uncovered are rich."
Quinn also feels that the even while many writers are heading toward the web, there is still value to be found in the printed word.
"As much as readers are seeking the Internet more for information and publishers direct energies to a web presence, I believe publishing that is not only high quality, but that has a fine aesthetic - an aesthetic of the senses: where a magazine or book is good to hold, and smell and look at - is still very much sought after," says Quinn.
The current issue of High Desert Journal can be purchased at highdesertjournal.com.