Artemis Journal rolls out its 26th issue on Friday, June 7, at the Taubman Museum of Art. In anticipation, we asked Jeri Rogers, the indefatigable lead of the all-volunteer team behind this literary and arts mainstay, what we should expect from this issue and at the collaborative launch celebration.
BOOK CITY ★ Roanoke: Artemis Journal has joined forces with the Southwest Virginia Ballet for the 2019 launch. Tell us about this collaboration.
Jeri Rogers: The idea was sparked by one of my dream team members, artist Tricia Scott. Tricia designed the covers for 2017 and 2018. She is familiar with the ballet company, as her daughter studied at the school for years, growing-up and dancing under the direction of the wonderful director, Pedro Szalay.
BCR: What was Mr. Szalay’s response?
JR: Without hesitation, Pedro responded with enthusiasm, “I love the fusion of poetry and the dance and the meaningful essence of the poetry to create movement through dance.”
BCR: What do you find at the intersection of dance and poetry?
JR: Dance and poetry share the magical intersection of thought and creativity. Both use movement in the execution of the idea and both will enhance the creative process giving movement and words an intersection for enlightenment and joy.
BCR: What are some other collaborations that inspired this?
JR: Throughout the long history of Artemis Journal (42 years!) collaboration has played a part in producing programs that will energize and connect with the various organizations and our community. Some of our collaborations have included music and poetry, such as the First Baptist Choir singing gospel music along with acclaimed poet, Nikki Giovanni reading poetry, art shows in various locations such as the City Art Show, artistic expression with theater presentations at Mill Mountain Theater, artists talks at the Taubman Museum, poetry readings with various organizations such as Hollins University, poetry readings at area libraries, school mentorship programs, an annual Winter Lights Festival and the Blue Ridge Writer’s conference.
For the last two years, under our theme “Women Hold Up Half the Sky”, Artemis expanded our literary range to include a science fiction short story contest with a feminist theme by collaborating with two California based non-profits, The Light Bringer Project and the Hollywood National Organization for Women. The winning story with a female protagonist receives a $100 cash award, is published both in Artemis Journaland on the Hollywood Now website. It’s also read by a celebrity guest at the Pasadena Litfest in California.
This year we are collaborating for the fourth time with the Taubman Museum of Art to host our annual launch of the Artemis Journal. A new collaboration has evolved with Festival in the Park who has asked us to join them with a Gazebo poetry reading during the this year’s festival in downtown Roanoke.
BCR: How many submissions did you have this year?
JR: We received over 1,000 submissions from around the United States and from other countries, such as Ethiopia, Italy, France, Canada and England. Our reputation has spread. Four poems were selected from the poems published in this year’s journal for the interpretive dance program and will be read by the authors:
“Sugar Bread” by James Broschart
“Song of the Grail Maiden” by Ayn Cates Sullivan
“As if to say”, Diane Scribner Clevenger
“Granny’s Garden”, Ashely Rhames
BCR: How many works are in this year’s volume?
This year’s journal has 124 artists and writers from the Appalachian region of the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond. The journal also honors in memoriam by publishing poems of two poets who passed away recently, writer and artist, William Cates and poet, Barbara Stout.
In the aftermath of the Women’s Marches of 2017, Artemis adopted this ancient proverb for the journal’s theme: “Women Hold Up Half the Sky.” Emblematic of this theme, we are featuring two women who have held up their part of the sky, Sally Mann and Natasha Trethewey. Our cover image for Artemis 2019 is a stunning photograph from Sally Mann’s recent show, “Sally Mann—A Thousand Crossings”, which opened last year at the National Gallery of Art and has since traveled internationally. Our featured poet is U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Natasha Trethewey and our journal opens with Ms. Trethewey’s profound poem, “Reach”.
BCR: What do you enjoy most about this work?
Witnessing the healing power of art! I feel immense satisfaction and joy bringing a community together of artists and writers, by providing a yearly journal celebrating the works of artists and writers in the Appalachian region of the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond.
I found my life’s mission back at the beginning of the journey with Artemis in 1977. In my youthful naivete by dedicating myself to photography, I had thought I was essentially saving myself, when in fact there were many that benefited from my experience and determination. I am very grateful to my mentors back at the Women’s Center, namely TAP CEO, Bristol Hardin, Betty Long and Wilma Warren, who encouraged me to combine my love of art and photography with the Women’s Resource Center.
Artemisis rooted in social activism and continues today to impact our community by promoting the arts. None of this would happen without the dedication of our all volunteer team, which includes Maurice Fergerson, Literary Director, Virginia Lepley, Art Director, Jane Goette, Donnie Secreast, Associate Directors, Mattt Dhillon, Associate Poetry and Layout Director, Crystal Founds, Social Media Director, Jonathan Rogers, Legal Advisor, volunteers, Julia Fallon, Nick Kalen and intern, Jennifer Schwartz.
BCR: What should we expect at the launch?
JR: Artemis Journal will explore the power of movement, and how immersing our eyes in new experiences can lead to a happier, healthier and more fulfilled existence. By collaborating with Southwest Virginia Ballet and the Taubman Museum, we will celebrate the launch of Artemis 2019 by presenting an evening of joy through interpretive dance and poetry. The hardback and softback journals will be available for sale at the launch.
With our strong belief in the power of poetry and inclusion, Artemis dedicates the 2019 journal to the acclaimed poet, Mary Oliver, who passed away this year. Reflecting a deep love of nature, and connecting the spirit world with the physical world in subtle ways, Ms. Oliver wrote with a natural, even naive, enthusiasm for life itself, as in her majestic “When Death Comes” (1991) which is published in this year’s journal, she cries:
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
The launch is a fundraiser for Artemis and the Taubman Museum.Artemis is a charitable non-profit organization made possible by a dedicated, all-volunteer team and by generous contributions from our supporters, the Roanoke Arts Commission and the Taubman Museum of Art.
Ten percent of our earnings are donated to the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley, a women’s shelter for abused women.
BCR: I’ll look forward to the words, movement, and celebration.
Purchase tickets for the launch and ticket packages that include a copy of this year’s Artemis Journal online at the Taubman Museum of Art. ★