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OUR ORIGINS: From Stage to Page

A Letter from Thomas Alexander, EIC of Red Clay Journal:


The first poem I wrote, “Beneath the Oak,” I read at the Old South Gallery ten years ago. The Old South Gallery sponsored an open mike organized by my writing group comprised of Alana Dagenhart, Joyce Brown, and Les Brown. Later additions to our group included Rogelio Calvo and Melissa Bentley. We encouraged young and emerging artists. The space was rented from the Gordon family next to the old Gordon Furniture Store where the Prince and Lester murals are painted. I remember I became friends with the graffiti artist who painted the murals. I had someone else read my poem. And I used a pen name. After they read it, everyone knew it was my poem.


The first poem I had published I wrote in twenty minutes in Spanish for a poetry contest while I was getting a degree in Spanish literature at UNC-Greensboro. My professor said I should enter the contest sponsored by Holy Cross University. The magazine that published it is Fósforos (Matches in English ) and the poem is called Látigos de cemento, based on a conversation I had with my Black neighbor while living in Greensboro. I sent it in ten minutes before the deadline and won first prize in the contest. I won $300. A friend of mine told me that I better hold on to the money because it would probably be the only time that someone would pay me for writing poetry. I used it to pay rent. Later, a friend of mine translated it into English.  I read it in Spanish virtually to an audience at Holy Cross to celebrate Ramiro Lagos, a retired Spanish professor from UNC-Greensboro.  


These past few months’ quarterly print edition of the Iredell Free News has included a four-page section of selected poems, flash-fiction, and art from the Red Clay Journal, a journal that encourages creative writing and art from Iredell County residents. If you write in Spanish, send us your work and we will translate it. We are especially interested in young voices from middle schools, high schools and community colleges in Iredell County. We recently had a poetry contest for high school students which we published this month. If you are from Iredell County, have lived here before, or have had any connection, or if you identify with “red clay” (i.e. you live where “red clay” is the primary type of dirt), we invite you to submit your work to the journal. We publish about 8 pages currently online and select enough work to publish 4 pages in print edition.


We look forward to your contributions!

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