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Greenleaves Literary Review Magazine Provides Artistic Outlet for Upper School Writers and Artists

This year has certainly been unique for the Greenleaves Literary Review Magazine editorial team, but because of their commitment to each other and to the creative spirit of the Upper School community, they successfully collaborated to digitally produce one of the best issues of the magazine yet! The Greenleaves team included editor-in-chief Amarah Friedman ’20; co-editors Mimi Brown ’21, Ananya Radhakrishnan ’21 and Akshara Sriram ’22; and faculty sponsor Upper School English Teacher Dr. Julia Hansen. The mission of the publication is “to produce an annual student-run literary magazine that fosters creativity and encourages teamwork, and to host literary events throughout the year that shine a light on the power of language and literature.”

The team worked consistently all year to promote Greenleaves and widen its scope. They encouraged students to submit to the publication and hosted literary events—both on campus events in the fall and winter, such as writing workshops, and online events this spring, such as Poem in Your Pocket Day. Brown recently reflected on her Greenleaves experience, “One of my favorite memories from this year was our ‘Soapbox Signatures’ event, which was essentially a poetry slam for all genres. Seeing so many students come together and read their work aloud was so powerful, and it’s a moment I’ll never forget.”

This event was also a favorite Greenleaves memory for Friedman. “Earlier in the year, our team decided that Greenleaves should expand beyond simply producing an issue, and we decided to nurture the community of writers with an event called ‘Soapbox Signatures.’ We invited the MICDS Upper School to share short stories or poetry that they wrote or were personally fond of. After they presented, they signed the soapbox, and that soapbox will be used at the next ‘Soapbox Signatures’ event, too, until it’s filled with the names of MICDS literature aficionados. I particularly loved this event because of its supportive nature. A lot of people showed up, not planning to share, and by the end, most of them felt comfortable enough to do so.”

The editorial team developed a deeply collaborative culture throughout the year, which paid dividends during distance learning. Within days of the announcement that we would not return to on-campus learning after spring break, the team began rallying over email and discussing their options. They decided to produce the issue digitally, extend the deadline for student submissions and actively solicit work produced during quarantine. Sriram said, “Distance learning put a dent in our collaborative process; however, our team was able to create a diligent and efficient online workspace to switch from a paper to digital edition.” Once distance learning began, they met weekly over Zoom, not only to plan a virtual event and review student submissions but also to check in on each other and share the challenges and joys they were discovering in their distance learning experiences.

Radhakrishnan remarked about their dynamic team culture. “The five of us have cultivated many memories and learned a lot about each other during this time. We are all well aware of Mimi’s deep devotion to villanelle poems and the heartfelt emotion she pours into them, whether heartbreak, fury or joy. In fact, it was her idea to write one dedicating this year’s issue to Amarah. Akshara has been our essential underclassmen member, responsible for obtaining many of our submissions. Amarah is our valiant and fearless leader: her kindness and genuine joy never fail to calm me down. I will really miss her next year. As for Dr. Hansen, our whole Greenleaves journey wouldn’t have been possible without her. Her passion and devotion to creative writing and to us are amazing and her smile always brightens the room.”

The result of this collaboration and commitment was quite remarkable, as you can see from the selection of works from the Greenleaves issue at the end of this article. This week, the team proudly shared the digital publication with the entire Upper School student community. Friedman said, “Our group really came together to make this issue special. Not only have we (hopefully!) caught the grammatical errors in pieces submitted to us, but our own personal touches are littered throughout—in the dedication, editor’s note, editors’ trees, etc. It has truly been a labor of love.”

Hansen said, “When I look at the issue, I’m so proud of all the students who had the courage to create art and to share it. I’m really inspired, though, by the specific relationships that you can glimpse in these pages, nowhere more clearly than in the pairing of Amarah’s Editor’s Note and the three other editors’ collaborative dedicatory poem To Amarah. They did more than produce an issue together. Rooted in their respect and care for each other, as well as in their knowledge of each other and their community, they’ve made something beautiful—something that none of them could have created entirely on their own—that they can share with others in this time of uncertainty.”

JK-12 English Department Chair Lynn Mittler is equally impressed with the publication and the team’s creative process. “Amarah, Mimi, Ananya and Akshara have been actively cultivating a culture of creativity and inclusion throughout the year, but in this time of unique uncertainty, they have shown resilience and determination to make sure their fellow artists’ voices are still heard and to provide comfort and support to our community.”

“I feel that Greenleaves represents a freedom for the students—the opportunity to be published is exciting, no matter how big or small the issue is,” said Friedman. “It’s also an opportunity for writers to show pieces of themselves. I believe that an artist sharing work is like exposing a piece of their soul; it takes courage and confidence to want to be seen.”

Brown said, “I hope readers will see this issue as a turning point for Greenleaves, as it emphasizes growth and change as essential aspects of life. It shows not only how the five of us have grown as a team, but how our community has changed along with the global situation. There’s an emphasis on activism, on demanding change to be globally recognized. Our team is forced to change moving forward, as we say goodbye to Amarah. Even our format has changed: publishing online for the first time in Greenleaves history has opened up so many possibilities for us as we move forward. I’m so excited to see how the magazine continues to evolve in the future.”

Radhakrishnan put it simply, “Through Greenleaves, students can pour a piece of their heart out into a piece of writing or work of art.”

Please enjoy a selection of literary works from this year’s publication below. 

No literary magazine would be complete without beautiful works of visual art spattered throughout, and Greenleaves features several particularly expressive artistic works. A few examples include:

  • Picnic by Qentin Dunne ’21, a piece made from old issues of National Geographic, featured as the cover page of the issue 
  • Untitled by Sophia Weber ’21
  • Diligence by Maya Pinz ’20
  • Growth by Kendall Rozen ’21

Thank you to the editorial team and all of the student contributors for a wonderful digital issue of Greenleaves! You have, once again, made the MICDS community proud.