On the release of the inaugural issue of Humana Obscura, a new bi-annual independent literary magazine, founding editor-in-chief Bri Bruce shares the origin and mission of the publication, and what she hopes it will achieve in future issues.
Humana Obscura was born to capture, curate, and share the experience of others and their relationship to their environments, but in a way that was not anthropocentric and not focused inward.
FALL/WINTER 2020 ISSUE No. 1
NOW AVAILABLE IN PRINT AND ONLINE
It’s with great pleasure that I write this letter for the inaugural issue of Humana Obscura.
In the making of this magazine, I was often asked what my inspiration was, and what the name meant. I’ll take this letter as an opportunity to provide insight into both. In doing so, I hope to set the stage for future issues but want to note that I hope the publication evolves, further finding its niche with the help of its contributors—and because to change is to improve.
Born during the shelter-in-place orders imposed by the global coronavirus pandemic, Humana Obscura was built on a foundation devoid of the human, with the kind of creativity and self-discovery that spawn out of solitude, and out of the feelings of unrest and the despair that it can bring. It’s often been iterated throughout history, by poets, artists, and philosophers alike, that a great deal of creative work has arisen out of solitude. “Without great solitude,” Pablo Picasso once said, “no serious work is possible.”
No stranger to solitude, I once spent twenty-eight straight days alone in a small, one-room cabin in the remote forests of Northern California. Though, in retrospect, this was a small amount of time in comparison to the implications of the current pandemic. This self-imposed isolation became the basis of my creative work in the years following. I wrote an entire collection of poetry during that stay, along with a short memoir detailing the day-by-day account of a writer at work, and made headway on the seemingly lifelong project of a novel I had the idea to write when I was a teen.
Then, it was as though I had run out of things to say. The well went dry. I took a hiatus from my personal writing to further my career and focus on other creative endeavors not involving writing, like helping produce a documentary film and helping other writers on their journey to becoming a published author. Only until in the throes of such a turbulent time in our history, when I was forced indoors day after day and away from others and my usual routines, did I feel that familiar resurgence in creative stimulus.
I was craving to create, to express myself in ways I knew how—perhaps as a means to cope with the violence and uncertainty of the time. I was reminded of the studies of the effects of isolation on the creative brain, and if what comes comes after solitude-induced introspection and periods of self-discovery is a looking outward to what is beyond us—to others, to the places around us, to the larger meaning of it all.
I got to work. The early months in shelter-in-place were personally prolific, and I wrote an entire full-length collection of poems and began working on a second, yet still needed more.
I sought to connect with other creatives who may have experienced similar surges in creativity. Thus, on the precipice of emerging from solitude, Humana Obscura was born to capture, curate, and share the experience of others and their relationship to their environments, but in a way that was not anthropocentric and not focused inward. Rather, Humana Obscura provides a hint of how we emerge from solitude with a new appreciation for our natural world.
And, well, I’m an admirer of nature poetry. Much of my personal work is inspired by nature, and in today’s world I feel this is a genre becoming more obscure, its readers and writers waning fewer.
At the soul of this publication, I hope to curate written vignettes of the human experience with the backdrop of breathtaking art that lives in the spaces of the readers’ interpretation. Humana Obscura’s mission is to publish and promote the best work of today’s new voices and talents. The intention is to inspire readers and enrich their lives while providing an inclusive space for elevating the voices and creative work of our contributors.
As our name hints, we strive to publish work where the human element is removed from the forefront—obscured—focusing more on our natural surroundings. We seek work that examines the relationship we have to those surroundings and to one another while illuminating the struggles of the human condition in relation to the natural world.
Thank you to each of the contributors in this issue. Without you, this would not be possible.
Readers, I truly hope you enjoy the first issue—and that you’ll return again for future issues.
ABOUT THE EDITOR
Award-winning author and Pushcart Prize nominee, California poet Bri Bruce (B. L. Bruce) has been called the “heiress of Mary Oliver.” With a bachelor’s degree in literature and creative writing from the University of California at Santa Cruz, her work has appeared in dozens of anthologies, magazines, and literary publications, including The Wayfarer Journal, Canary, The Remnant Archive, Northwind Magazine, The Soundings Review, and The Monterey Poetry Review, among many others. Bruce is the recipient of the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Poetry Prize and the PushPen Press Pendant Prize for Poetry, as well as the author of three books: The Weight of Snow, 28 Days of Solitude, and The Starling’s Song. Her highly praised debut collection The Weight of Snow was the 2014 International Book Awards poetry category finalist and the 2014 USA Best Book Awards poetry category finalist. The Starling’s Song was released in February of 2016, and was selected as Honorable Mention in the Pacific Rim Book Festival. In addition to her writing pursuits, Bruce is also a painter and photographer, with work that has been featured in The Sun Magazine, Near Window, and many others.