EPL literary magazine 10th Ward Lit gives Evanston residents creative outlet

The 10th Ward Lit logo with a colorful line pattern creating the shape of an open book.

Graphic Courtesy of M. Halka

Editor in chief Kellye Fleming said she chose the name 10th Ward Lit as a way to provide a communal space for residents of all nine wards to share their artwork.

Isabel Funk, Reporter

When Evanston Public Library branch assistant Kellye Fleming noticed many of her friends were trying new artistic projects during the pandemic, she was inspired to start 10th Ward Lit, a library literary magazine. 

“A lot of people around me were taking up different creative hobbies to take up their time, or to entertain their children,” Fleming said. “Creative outlets are very important, especially in times of stress, and I think they can be very bonding.”

Fleming proposed the idea for 10th Ward Lit, a digital library publication, to EPL last August, and now serves as its editor in chief. 10th Ward Lit is currently accepting poems, short fiction, photographs and illustrations for its first issue, The Coronavirus Issue, which is scheduled to publish in June.

Fleming said she chose the name 10th Ward Lit as a way to create a space for residents of all nine wards to express their creativity.

“I want people to realize that their neighbors are hidden artists, and that they themselves are hidden artists,” Fleming said.

As part of the publication’s goal to provide an inclusive platform for residents, EPL branch assistant Beatriz Echeverria joined 10th Ward Lit as a co-editor to provide Spanish translation. 

Fleming said including multiple languages in the magazine is important because she did not want to limit creators by making them translate their art out of their native language. 

Echeverria helped translate 10th Ward Lit’s website and submission form, and said it’s essential to make all members of the community feel welcome to contribute to the magazine. The inclusion of multiple languages has also added new layers to the submission process. 

“When you translate into Spanish, you have to be very mindful of the pronouns and you have to be gender neutral, because words have gender in Spanish,” Echeverria said. “So in this case, we tried to be very mindful of the way we refer to people that would be sending their work.”

As of now, Fleming said the magazine plans to publish virtually.

Halka, the exhibits and creative programming library assistant, is also a co-editor of the magazine. Ze said ze hopes 10th Ward Lit can be a place to support local artists and help them find resources and build community networking.

“We kind of want it to be a platform for people who’ve been part of historically silenced communities or groups that are not not always part of a dominant narrative to be able to share themselves and have a good platform to do that,” Halka said.

The upcoming issue invites Evanston residents to share artwork that highlights what they have lost and gained during the pandemic. Fleming said she gets “giddy” every time they receive a submission and is excited to see the final product.

10th Ward Lit will hold an event to celebrate the publication of the first issue, either virtually or outside, Fleming said. 

She said she hopes the imaginary “10th Ward” can be a collaborative space belonging to all residents for art experimentation and sharing.

“When we talk about art, a lot of people think you have to be published to call yourself an artist, (or) you have to get your artwork in a gallery to call yourself a painter,” Fleming said. “But I think if you’re just putting paint to canvas or words on paper, then you’re already an artist, you’re already a writer.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @isabeldfunk

Related Stories:

Evanston Public Library to host Spanish financial literacy modules in “Mes de la Educación Financiera” throughout May

Evanston Public Library to host climate activism series during Earth MonthCommunication freshman Asha Yearwood publishes magazine supporting racial justice