Building a Literary City

April 9, 2014 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Left on Mallory founder, Jared Rypkema talks about the literary movement happening in Jacksonville and the release of the Bridge Eight Literary Magazine.

This is the best time to be an artist in Jacksonville.

I don’t say this just because One Spark will host hundreds of creators next week, but because the encouragement and demand for the arts in Jacksonville this year is even larger than it was last year and the year before that. The city has a vibrant atmosphere that it didn’t have before, and while we still have a ways to go, you can start to feel the momentum growing.

In July of last year, I shared an article on Metrojacksonville about building a community of writers. In that piece I said, "The writer is a top influencer because he has the ability to speak directly to the human condition." This is something I’ve continued to believe and has been a driving force in the creation and development of Left on Mallory. Over the past year, the community has grown into a connection point for many writers, and seen more and more of our city’s writers have the opportunity to showcase their work beside the visual artists.

As the community has taken shape, we’ve discovered a common dream that writers in Jacksonville carry for this city, and it’s this: to see Jacksonville become a literary city with many opportunities for writers in the way of being able to connect, celebrate and experience the power of the written word.

It’s a big dream for certain, but every writer we’ve come in contact with believes that Jacksonville has all the right pieces to make this happen and with the right push, could come around faster than we think. Left on mallory is beginning to make the connections and create these opportunities, but until a few months ago, there was still a piece it hadn’t started to build: a literary magazine.

In the south there are many cities with independent presses and literary reviews, journals and magazines. These sit at the same table with other creative endeavors and become the tastemakers of the culture and the lifeblood of the society. They serve their cities by giving them identity and vibrancy. Jacksonville has a great online literary journal, but we wanted it to have something tangible, something we could hold in our hands and would last for a long time. And so we’ve done it. We’ve begun to create a literary magazine and have called it, Bridge Eight.

Bridge Eight is a printonly publication founded on the belief that the arts are a major player in the development of a vibrant city. In Jacksonville, we’ll be excited to bring you prose and poetry that will celebrate and connect our intersecting cultures and beliefs in the most beautiful form we know, print.

We call this publication “Bridge Eight,” first, to pay tribute to the River City and its seven bridges, but also because we believe there’s room for another bridge an invisible one. This eighth bridge is the one that connects culture with vitality and art with growth. We know that the written word can promote vibrancy and development in Jacksonville and so the name “Bridge Eight” encapsulates everything we are hoping to accomplish.

Of course, this magazine isn't intended to be the golden egg, nor are we claiming that left on mallory is the cornerstone of the literary revolution in Jacksonville. There are already great things being done that have laid the foundation for all of this. There’s fiction fix, the online literary journal, founded by Mark Ari and UNF students in 2002, that just published their 15th issue, which was edited by April Gray Wilder. There’s Douglas Anderson School of the arts that just hosted The DA Writer’s Festival in March. And there are numerous other writing groups and organizations in Jacksonville that are doing amazing things. Bridge Eight will have its place among these amazing people and movements.

The first issue will be launched in the fall, but if you'd like to see our ISSUE 00 that's filled with stories, visit our creator space in Chamblin's Uptown during One Spark and you can read through the contents and ask us any questions you'd like.

I'll say it again: this is the best time to be an artist in Jacksonville. But on top of that, it’s a great year to be a writer in Jacksonville. The common dream we share is taking shape, and we’re only getting started.

We’ll see you at One Spark!