I sat on a shiny orange bedspread in one of the cheapest motels in Santa Cruz and sent a poetry submission to the publisher and editor whose opinion I cared about most in the world. This wasn’t a piece sent with the armored professionalism of most of my literary submissions. This was a flinging of my work at the feet of someone I deeply admired, and who just happened to be sitting on an identical faux-Southwestern style bedspread in the room on the other side of the wall.
Evan Hartzell is a Los Angeles-based artist and musician who publishes the art and literary magazine Brackish. Brackish is full of images and poetry that are mournful and hopeful at the same time. The works in Brackish don’t shy away from the painful legacy of our current place in history, yet still have faith in redemption through truth. Check out the links at the end of this story and see for yourself.
Evan Hartzell and I were friends at UC Santa Cruz in the late eighties. Evan has always had more integrity than most people. He also has very picky taste in everything. Our families were in Santa Cruz that week because his son and my daughter had business of their own with the University there. Evan had asked me over dinner at the Surfrider if I happened to have a poem about a tree growing towards the sun. If so, he invited me to send it along for consideration.
I did have a poem about a tree growing towards the sun. I wrote Earthmaker to read aloud at the funeral of my friend’s stillborn grandchild. It’s about how a mother’s grief for her dead child is an ancient truth and has run through the natural world since the Earth began.
Evan’s enthusiastic acceptance over breakfast meant more than just a publishing credit in a brilliant new art magazine, though it was that. Earthmaker’s invitation into Brackish Vol. 2 was a message that I was showing integrity in my work, and to me integrity is the most important thing. Rejection is a part of being a working writer. Yet Evan’s yes to Earthmaker has hushed the sting of every no in the past and future.
Evan likes my poem. I’m on the right track.
My credit in Brackish Vol. 2 was a great YES. We all have times when a yes answer changed our lives. What was one of yours? Leave a reply in the comments section.
Check out Brackish here: brackish-vol-2
See Evan’s artwork here: https://evanhartzell.wordpress.com/artist-evan-hartzell/