November 30th, 2020
This post warrants two sections: one to talk about the fascinating Pamela Colman Smith and her periodical The Green Sheaf, and the other to touch on the insightful discussion we had about our magazine pages.
I’m torn on how to write of Colman Smith. On one hand, I am fascinated and impressed by her. She was a person of many talents. She could draw, paint, design costumes, and perform. She built a project in The Green Sheaf that could truly reflect her vision. The colour she imbued the pages with spoke to me (though I don’t have synesthesia) of her artistic talent but also of her mark: her making them her own. Aside from being an artist, Colman Smith was also an entrepreneur and a teacher who shared her knowledge with others. There’s much to admire, and to find joy in.
And yet… part of me is also angry — angry at the fact that she struggled for much of her life, that despite all her talent, ability, and ingenuity, it was only through an inheritance that she could lease a home, that she was continually underpaid and underappreciated, and that she died in debt. It’s frustrating to look back at her through time and see how life wronged her. Then again, perhaps I am not bound to either of these ways of remembering. She was talented and brilliant and she deserved better. We can appreciate her work and simultaneously understand the constraints she worked under.
Going though everyone’s magazine pages illuminated them (the pages, and the people who made them) in new light. The discussion we had about making editorial decisions also made me think of our possible futures. Soon, we will graduate from the program and (re)enter the literary field as writers, editors, teachers… It’s curious to think how different the decisions we will make in those positions will be. How might a publication look with Rosie as editor? Or me? Thinking about these questions reminded me of all of the tiny, subjective decisions that went into the little magazines, and I don’t think this subjectivity should be read negatively. Rather, it seems the essence of the periodicals we’ve been working with all semester: they are reflections of the people who made them.