Baltimore’s New Student Art and Literary Magazine of Mental and Physical Health Debuts
You know an event is a success when there are more people than chairs. On Friday, April 6th, Charm City Stories, Baltimore’s first student literary and art magazine of mental and physical health, released its first publication with a poetry reading and gallery showing.
The slim and bold art magazine features the work of at least five Goucher students, including Natasha Hubatsek, ‘21, Michelle Cheifetz, ‘20, Ruth Diaz-Rivera, ‘20, Donche Golder, ‘19, and Sarojini Schutt, ‘18.
The magazine was founded by Johns Hopkins student Arunima Vijay. Through her experience living in Baltimore, Vijay had begun to notice many experiences with illness in the community around her, as well as the abundance of art. She desired to find a way to combine medicine with art, a desire which eventually led to the creation of this publication. Charm City stories is inspired by the field of Narrative Medicine, which is rooted in the idea that effective and humane healthcare relies on the ability to interpret and be moved by the stories of others.
Starting out, Vijay was nervous about how others would respond to her idea. “I didn’t know if I was the only one who thought there was a need for a publication doing this kind of work,” she said.
As it turned, however, Vijay was not alone in wanting a student publication focused on health. She was able to form a team of editors with three other students from Johns Hopkins: Anuradha Haridhas, Julia See, and their magazine and website designer, Coleman Haley. The team publicized through social media, student writing/art groups, and outreach to the heads of the art and writing departments at Johns Hopkins, Goucher, Loyola, UMBC, University of Maryland College Park, and Morgan University. Through these various outlets, they received student poetry, art, creative nonfiction and fiction, all of which was related to physical and mental health. “The most fulfilling part was the overwhelmingly positive response we got from the community,” said Vijay.
In addition to the support of the community, a student publication also requires financial backing. Charm City Stories was fortunate to receive funding by the Mellon Arts Innovation grant from Johns Hopkins University.
Between applying for the grant for funding, contacting writers and artists, designing the magazine, creating the website, and planning the exhibition, Vijay estimates that, altogether, putting together the magazine took several hundred hours. “It’s a year’s worth of hours and effort,” she said.
The publication opens with a poem from Goucher student Natasha Hubatsek entitled “maybe that’s another morning.” Hubatsek’s free verse poem wanders from crisp detail to sensory snapshot, tracing the thoughts of someone asking and answering the question of why they keep on getting up in the morning.
Further into the publication, Michelle Cheifetz’s contemplative poems, “Don’t cry,” “What isn’t,” and “science: Rome,” slide between italics and regular font, images and ideas, beauty and destruction. Cheifetz and Hubatsek both read from their work at the gallery showing and magazine opening.
About halfway through the magazine, Donche Golder’s poem, “This is what you need to hear, and why” speaks directly to the perpetrators of sexual assault. At the end of the poem, the poem’s speaker then addresses a particular yet general “you,” saying, “I could have inserted a name, but this poem isn’t for one person./ This poem is directed at “you,” whoever “you” may be,/ wherever “you” are, for whatever “you” have done wrong./ This is what you need to hear, and this is why.”
Many of the Goucher students involved submitted to the publication because they were in a writing class with Professor Katherine Cottle, and wanted to see how their work would be received outside of the classroom and the Goucher community. It appears that the response was largely a positive one, as the publication features the work of so many Goucher students.
The current team of Charm City Stories editors, consisting entirely of JHU students, hopes, in future years, to have more students from other schools involved in editing the publication. They would also like to have a broader audience, more submissions, a larger event venue…and more chairs.
To read the publication online, visit charmcitystories.com.
If you’re interested in applying for an editor position for next year, click here to fill out an application form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeV8pkhuw70NKOcwf_rL-jcQe-CIFfAuf3sSIrOTzwAHm_TZA/viewform
Featured Image: Charm City Stories Logo. Photo Credit: Charm City Stories Facebook Page