25th Anniversary Blog Post

Written by: Nicole Catarino and Jess Gallagher

For the 25th anniversary of the Long River Review, we wanted to take some time to reflect on each edition of our journal’s publication. These moments in our Long River Review history defy categorization and aim to show the work behind each staff’s efforts to continue the legacy that began in 1998. Some of these passages are taken for our Editor’s Notes, others are themes we’ve witnessed across the years that have shaped the Long River Review as we know it today…


What’s in a name? Deciding on a name for the literary magazine Writing UConn was not an easy task for our editors. However, we did agree that the name of the literary magazine should reflect something about Connecticut and literature. Molding the two into one, The Long River Review was born. Since “Connecticut” means “long river place” in the Algonkian dialect, we only thought it would be fitting to name our journal after a variation of this name. 


With the first year of Long River’s existence came an innate need for change—to break away from the past. As a staff of undergraduate college students, we find ourselves constantly shifting during these formative years. We learn and grow from each experience as we continue on the path of life. Our writing reflects that change. Long Review has always been about beginning anew. 


Like the river that flows through the currents of Connecticut, the Long River Review’s movement mirrors that of the voices that embody it. By uplifting the diverse creative voices and artwork of authors and creatives, we aim to leave behind a piece of our legacy on the page. 


The goal of Long River is to capture life as it is. We must embrace the simplicity of life. Our authors and artists aim to paint portraits of the everyday, to celebrate life as it comes to us. We write portraits of our loved ones, letters to our parents, and tales of love that go beyond our 10 x 20 ft dorm rooms.


With change comes lost connections. Missed opportunities and loneliness affect the voices of our authors, but it is through their work that they seek to reestablish the connections they’ve lost. Melding together the sound of the written word with visual media, we aim to communicate through our art. We create a bond with others the moment we share the intimate pieces of ourselves in our writing. At Long River, we are never truly strangers.


With 2003 came many changes to the Long River Review that would shape our existence today. This was the first year that the Long River Review was integrated into the class that we know today. Now, being an official class, our staff doubled and our resources began to grow. Formerly, we were solely a passion project that was affiliated with the Creative Writing Club, and over the past six years, we have colored our journal with a broad palette of emotions that shines especially vibrant this year. From experimental to formal writing, Long River aims to extend its scope to represent the university community in every hue.


The baking metaphors are strong in this edition. Art and literature feed our emotions, nourish our curiosity, and leave us wanting more. The stories baked into this edition of the Long River Review are designed to sustain the creative life of the university and beyond. If art and literature nourish our souls, then the feast that is Long River will continue to feed our community for another 25 years and more.


Many editors have aimed to define Long River Review—to categorize the journal’s essence into some sort of idea or message. Our editors agree, though, that Long River does not have one particular idea behind it. It is an ever-growing, flexible being that takes the shape of the works it contains. The voices of our community shape our identity.


And yet, sometimes, we still don’t learn. We still search to categorize ourselves. We want an ingrained identity; it’s been conditioned in each of us to search for it. Our editors wanted to do something new with Long River this year to find its identity, but then they decided against the idea. Long River Review has always been just a collection of people, ideas, hearts, and hard work—a true definition of the word “journal.”


There’s a certain sense of duty and pride that comes with being an editor. In the active effort to promote creativity and artistic expression, this edition of Long River Review emphasizes the heroism that can be discovered in journal publication. As heroic as you, the editor, may be in your unspoken promise to keep art alive, the writers and other editors you are working with are saving you at the same time. Long River Review provides both a shoulder to lean on and support in the form of creative works.


Sometimes, though, the most meaningful and poignant purpose of a written work is not about how it pushes boundaries or revitalizes the very idea of “art.” Sometimes, all it takes is finding one line that resonates with you for a piece to hold significance. The value of the journal is measured by the sum of its pieces, and as long as one person finds something that speaks to them amidst all the creative works, then Long River Review has succeeded in its goal.


Long River Review is intrinsically tied to its Connecticut identity, but in this edition of the Long River Review, we were adamant about proving what that identity was. We argued that Connecticut is more than a simple “cow state,” and our Connecticut writers were not bereft of any nutrition or substance in their writing. We may be based in a state that’s more than “farm country,” but we would agree that the magazine is as refreshing as a cold glass of milk.


If the focus of last year’s journal revolved around our identity as a Connecticut journal, this year we focused on our identity as a literary journal from a college. We observed that even if college students, especially those who were members of Long River Review, were constantly living under a cloud of shame, they could find solace and pride in LRR and the important work they were doing as members of the team.


In an economic depression and an increasingly unjust world, art feeds the soul and Long River Review provides a vessel for that exchange. The works in LRR this year were “blooming,” the collective, shrieking, honest voices of the students around campus. We wanted to orient this issue of Long River Review around the catharsis of expression and the act of both writing and editing creative works.


After the catharsis, the release, comes a moment of starting anew and taking the time to discover something you had never known about yourself before. Self-discovery was our big focus this year, with special attention being given to our connections on campus and how college is an important time to emerge from your shell. If one finds the time to pause and listen to others, you can create connections just through words on a page—and Long River Review creates that invitation to listen.


Not all stories come to us screaming. Some pieces have been hidden at the bottom of desk drawers and stowed away under beds for years, and it only takes a breath of life to bring them a new sense of being. Long River Review seeks to reclaim those lost stories, uncover the ones that have been missing for years and present them for others to see. We want to start considering the deeper meaning behind what we publish.


Long River Review is a work of passion—in more ways than one. No piece published in Long River was chosen for how indifferent it made the editor feel. In fact, some of us grow so connected to the pieces we love that we’re willing to combat our fellow editors to fight for their place in the journal. This was a year of breaking tradition and in doing so, our issue became a compilation of passion. This editor of LRR—and every edition moving forward—began to seek out diverse, socially and politically conscious pieces that question the notions of creative impetus, intimacy, and historical “progress.” We developed a hunger for works that represent the duality of the human condition. Though we are a small journal, we have large aspirations, and we hoped to go national and grow our connections with the global community. 


At its core, Long River Review is a quilt of dozens of worlds all stitched together. For some writers and readers, these stories become their hopes and aspirations; for others, they are like their children—as both know how to keep us up at night. While the characters we read are learning to look through their eyes, we’re slowly learning how to look through theirs. Most importantly, there is always room for everyone in LRR. We invite you in to find or leave something on the page that you will always be able to return to.


Feel. Forget. Freeze. That was the motto for this year’s edition of Long River Review. As much as we always seek to connect and resonate with our readers, sometimes a more passive role is necessary for the exchange. We hope our pieces will draw you close or evoke a frustration that guides and urges you closer, but it is enough to let the pieces wash over you as well. Allow yourself to rest; the people, places, and moments in our journals will breathe for you.


Our 20th edition of Long River Review! After 20 years of creating our journal, we decided that this was a time for change and reflection. Having reached another bend in our path, we know we will have to begin carving out the next trail for us to follow, and trust those who come after us to continue pushing down that road. Each year we cast a wider net to find and bring new voices to our readers, and we hope that in the next decade, we’ll continue to yield more interesting finds. 


To celebrate Long River Review’s 21st birthday, we decided to take a trip around the world and officially go national! From Mansfield, Connecticut to places as far away as India, we’ve gathered pieces for our journal that are all boldly and unapologetically human. After all, who we publish and what we publish matters. We believe we are all standing in the same long river. Which is why, when we find a piece that speaks to us, it’s easy to see our own faces reflecting back.


In its second year of accepting submissions from an international pool, Long River Review is now caught in a strange flux between its identity as an undergraduate-affiliated journal and an international one. That’s why this issue is steeped in uncertainty. We wanted to push ourselves to play with language and form, and interrogate what works move us to find out why. Both emerging and established writers alike found their place in the journal, capturing our vision of publishing electrifying prose and poetry. We hoped this issue would convince our readers to immerse themselves in a new viewpoint. And, we hope to champion the question: Who does Long River Review want to be?


“Next, not now” is our guiding mantra this year. Next inspires us to find the pieces we think people will be reading and will be wanting to read in the future, instead of our current present. Ultimately, we concluded that “next” can mean anything from a piece that tells a story we haven’t heard before, or one that can make a reader think about a familiar world in a new way. Creating a sense of longevity and modernity for Long River Review helps us to ensure that our works will be pertinent to readers long into the future.


Created at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, this issue of Long Review Review was faced with its own unique set of challenges and changes. Our journal—and our reality—was constantly changing, constantly in motion, and we wanted to find pieces that demonstrated that movement in their prose. We searched for pieces that moved us, moved off the page, moved through time, moved through an emotion, and those that defied motion altogether, refusing to give in to the whims of time and change. 


The 25-year mark for Long River Review brings us to our present, and our nearly published edition of this journal. This year, we chose the theme of “resilience and perseverance,” creating an homage to those who have endured countless trials and tribulations over these past couple of years, while also acknowledging that much of what one writes about often stems from their own personal experiences—especially the ones that are hardest to work through. Resilience and perseverance are not about slaying the dragon, but rather having the courage to try, to pick up the pen (mightier than the sword) and create something honest that grants you the strength to try again.

We are deeply grateful for all our readers who have been with us from our first edition until now, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for Long River Review.

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