Arts funding is a precious commodity, and funding for nonprofit literary publishing is really scarce. So when I received an email in spring 2019 that an anonymous donor was interested in partnering with a college English department to publish an anthology of Connecticut writers, I thought I had won the lottery. Okay, it wasn’t quite “quit your day job and publish from Tahiti” money, but rather a fine investment to celebrate nutmeg authors, and an opportunity for Central Connecticut State University students to earn a little gas money as they learned how to edit, produce, and market a book.
Starting in fall 2019, our team of student editors and marketers began to build the infrastructure to publish the inaugural Connecticut Literary Anthology. When the virus hit in February, we were on our way to receiving three hundred submissions of poetry and prose. We read blind, meaning we did not know the author of each submission. Our submission guidelines had one key criteria: that writers reside in Connecticut on January 1, 2020. After a brief hiatus to relocate from campus to home offices in March, our readers and editors whittled the three hundred submissions down to a few dozen and then we asked our guest editors—published authors and publishers—for feedback. Thirty-six selected pieces were then edited over the summer.
The writers in our first annual anthology share themes amplified by current events, but not the context. Stories of family, economic inequality, sexual violence, social justice, culture wars, lost love, aging, and gender—they’re all in here. And mangos. Everyone loves mangos.
Luckily, I work with visionary educators who encouraged and helped our team to facilitate the production of the anthology. Tip of the hat to Dr. Stephen Cohen, Dr. Melissa Mentzer, and the entire faculty and staff in the CCSU English department. A big thanks to Dr. Robert Wolff, dean of the Carol A. Ammon College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and the senior CCSU administration—particularly the CCSU Foundation. Kudos to the good folks at the Connecticut Literary Festival and designer Jillian Goeler.
The contributors in this inaugural anthology hail from Windsor to Niantic, and Litchfield to Griswold. It’s a diverse ensemble. Thank you to all the writers who trusted us with their work, and a hardy congratulations to the writers whose work you hold in your hands.