Between the Lines: “A Year in Ink”

| April 3, 2012 | 4 Comments

“A Year in Ink” is an anthology of the creative work of San Diego County writers, published each year by San Diego Writers, Ink (SDWI). SDWI supports local writers with classes, workshops, and other resources at its East Village digs, The Ink Spot. The annual publication represents a sampling of the tangible results of our community’s diligent scribblers.

The fifth anthology was released and celebrated at the Cygnet Theatre in Old Town on March 19th. The volume is rich and filling, with forty-five pieces of prose—including short stories, novel and memoir excerpts, creative nonfiction, satire, and flash fiction—and poetry. The thirty-six authors are a diverse group, young and old, new writers and much-published veterans. Several have had work in previous anthologies, most have been published in other literary journals, but a few have the thrill of claiming this as their first publication.

SDWI receives several hundred responses to their call for submissions each summer, usually divided pretty evenly between poetry and prose. At the close of the submission period, all of the entries are read and commented on by multiple volunteer readers, and then guest editors reread everything and make the final selections. The work is read blind; the authors are not identified until the process is completed. This year’s prose editor was T. Greenwood, who teaches creative writing at UCSD and SDWI and is the author of six novels. Her introduction describes the chosen work as “. . . explorations and illustrations of lust and loneliness, fear and frustration . . . ruminations on the complexity of our lives.” Poetry editor Brandon Cesmat is an award-winning and much-published poet and performer who teaches at CSU San Marcos.

Twenty authors read from their work at the launch party, and each unique contribution was enthusiastically received by the audience of writers and readers, family and friends. Both new faces and seasoned pros were represented. Judy Reeves is a mainstay in the local writing community who has taught and coached San Diego writers for years and published an award-winning manual, “A Writer’s Book of Days.” She read “Critical Mass,” one of two powerful flash fiction pieces that were selected.

Alice Lowe and Jim Brega

At the other end of the spectrum, Jim Brega read from his moving allegorical story, “Things Could Be Worse.” Jim said that he was humbled at the overall excellence of the collection, and that, “In the end I realized what an honor it was that my story was selected by the pre-readers and editors, particularly so in that it’s the first story I’d ever submitted for publication!”

A few other standouts for me were flash fiction by Eber Lambert, “Phantom,” and Nicole Vollrath’s “Hard Work and a Clean Spirit.” They shared a small-town and long-ago warmth and nostalgia, pathos laced with wit. Nancy Klann read an excerpt from “The Silver Twinkie,” and I had to read the whole bizarre story as soon as I got home; Airstream trailers will never seem the same. Debbie Hall’s foot-tapping poem, “jazz is e.e. cummings,” wove together the rhythms of two of her loves.

I know now what the judges meant by the pain of the editorial process, the difficulty of having to reject some works in favor of others. I’d love to list all of the deserving “Inksters” and their contributions here but can only mention a few. I hope I’ve whetted some appetites for more: “A Year in Ink, Volume 5” is available for purchase from San Diego Writers, Ink at

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