J’Lyn Chapman here, writing from Chicago, Illinois, where I am about to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family. Per usual, my Chicago friends have been trying to tempt my husband and I to move to Chicago from Boulder, Colorado. For my husband, this would be a move back, as he grew up in Skokie, a suburb of Chicago. For me, it would mean a first-time move. Ironically, perhaps, I grew up in Colorado, and only moved away briefly and unhappily to attend graduate school in Florida. When I met my husband five or so years ago, I had been fondly dreaming of moving to Chicago, where I thought that surely I would be much happier. The neighborhoods, the train, the bloodymaries at the Matchbox, the many universities, and the literary scene appealed to me. I had attended a short residency at Wave Poetry’s Poetry Farm in southern Wisconsin, through which I met the mostly Chicago-based poets Lisa Fishman and Richard Meier. At the time, I had some good writer friends living in the area: Joshua Marie Wilkinson at Loyola University and Danielle Dutton and Marty Riker just a little south in Champaign-Urbana. When Josh recorded a video of me reading at the Art Institute for his video series Rabbit Light Movies, where I also discovered the Thorne Miniature Rooms, I felt like I needed to be here, in Chicago.
Of course Josh, Danielle, and Marty have moved away in the last year as people tend to do, but in those five years, I also found a very happy life in Boulder. I’ve been advising and teaching at Naropa University in what is now considered the Jack Kerouac School for nearly four years and have recently begun serving as the editor-in-chief of Bombay Gin. A few weeks ago, we hosted a fundraiser that demonstrated to me that I am not only part of a supportive community of students and faculty, but I also live in a gracious and considerate community of businesses that donated their goods and services to help out our program.
It’s absurd to list here the incredible opportunities that JKS has offered me. In addition to the consistently fantastic Summer Writing Program and working with writers like Michelle Naka Pierce, Bhanu Kapil, and Anne Waldman, Reed Bye, and Jack Collom, I also get to bask in the wider community of Colorado’s Front Range. As the yearly 4×4 Reading Series makes manifest, four writing programs anchor the Front Range; with these writing programs come dynamic writers and students, who operate presses and reading series.
I confess a failed attempt to list and link to all of these. Perhaps as today’s meal settles and the volume of the family’s teasing increases, I’ll sneak back to the computer and begin to list just a few of the many things that make Colorado’s Front Range a fertile ground for innovative writing. The point, however, is that even when Colorado’s maddening sun gets to me (some occasional cloud cover and rain is good for the mind and vegetation), I’m thankful I chose to live in Boulder, Colorado.
It is out of my and the Bombay Gin board’s appreciation for our fecund writing and arts community that we invite Colorado’s Front-Range writers and artists to submit to the spring issue of Bombay Gin. Submissions are open until February 15, 2012. For more details, click on the Submissions link above. We look forward to seeing this community come together in the pages of our next issue.