Jason Segedy, Editor
You are invited to share your Akron story by submitting it to Belt Magazine’s 6th city-based collection of essays, The Akron Anthology, to be published in 2016.
We welcome emerging and established writers, artists, and photographers – people with diverse experiences of the city, unique voices, and original points of view that are grounded in a sense of place.
We are not looking for uniformly positive stories about Akron, nor are we looking for uniformly negative ones. We are looking for the truth.
A collection of essays and works of art about the past, present, and future of Akron
This collection is being published by Belt Publishing, a publisher of independent journalism about the Rust Belt and city-based books, featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and other national media.
Here is what we are looking for:
- Nonfiction essays (both long-form and brief)*
- Photography (must be in grayscale)
- Artwork (must be in grayscale)
*Work running 1000-4000 words is preferred, but longer or shorter pieces will be accepted. Please do not submit works of fiction.
Akron was the fastest growing city in the United States between 1910 and 1920, tripling in size and growing from a population of 69,000 to 208,000.
Its period of rapid growth coincided with the expansion of the rubber and tire industry, which, in turn, corresponded with that of the automobile industry.
Since the mid-1970s, we have seen heavy industry leave our city, and have lost 31% of our population, declining from a peak of 290,000 residents in 1960, to 199,000 residents today.
The loss of jobs, residents, and some of our prosperity and identity has been a difficult transition for the city and its people. But we are a resilient bunch, and we are fortunate to have many assets to build upon.
Despite the technological advances of the modern world, such as the fact that I could show up in Tokyo 24 hours from now, or that I could send a text message to a friend in Australia in less time than it will take you to read this sentence, we human beings still exist in time and space.
As such, history and geography will continue to exert a powerful influence on our lives. This is true whether we realize it or not, and no matter how much we might have hated studying them as subjects in high school.
Our community. My neighborhood. Our history. It is not a linguistic accident that we use these possessive pronouns when we describe place, and space, and time.
The geographic and historic attributes of the places that we live and love, continue to resonate with us on a deeply personal level; regardless of whether we are completely conscious of them, they shape us as we go about our daily lives.
In every culture, you have an “origin myth” – a story that you tell yourself (that may or may not be entirely true) about where you have been, where you are, and where you are going.
In Akron (the city that I live in, and love) our origin myth goes like this:
We were a world-renowned city, the global center of the rubber and tire industry for roughly the first three-quarters of the 20th century; we struggled mightily in the 1970s and 1980s; we began a comeback in the 1990s; and we have been on an upward trajectory ever since, outpacing most of our Rust Belt peers (minus the road bump of the 2008 recession).
There is a lot of truth to this myth, but like any unifying narrative, it glosses over some details that might get in the way.
In this collection, we want delve into these details, and hear the stories that Akron’s people have to tell about its past, present, and future.
We are especially interested in capturing the spirit of the people that live here today, how they exorcise the ghosts that haunt this place, and how they are building something new out of the rubble of the past.
We want the truth about this community – both the good and the bad.
We want to hear from those who stay here for the sheer love of this place, who stay here because they recognize that love is a choice, an act of the will, a verb.
Loving this place means being able to face it with both eyes wide open: to simultaneously abide the considerable hope of its promise, the wondrous delight of its many charms, and the ugly depth of its despair.
This is a place that is full of promise, and opportunity. This is a place that almost always pleasantly surprises unsuspecting outsiders.
This is a place that is often its own worst enemy. This is a place that is full of intractable problems, shambling toward the abyss of despair.
This place is not a multiple choice question. It’s a full-on, old school, blue-book essay. You’ll need more than a number-two pencil to pass this test.
This is the place that was the fastest growing city in America, and this is the place that has been losing population for fifty years straight.
This is the place that was the Rubber Capital of the World, and this is the place that contains a mother-lode of abandoned factories.
This is the place with some of the most opulent and stable neighborhoods of any city in the Rust Belt, and this is the place with thousands of vacant houses, and with no concrete plan to rebuild them.
This is the place where many people left, where many others stayed, and where others chose to come.
Many of those who live here today, do it because we love it, and because we still give a damn.
This is our city, and nothing will ever take that away from us.
Submissions must include the author or artist’s full contact information (name, e-mail address, phone number, address, and 3-4 sentence biography).
You may submit multiple pieces.
Previously published pieces are acceptable, but the writer must include the original publication information with the submission, and have the rights to the piece.
We will work with writers and artists on pieces that show promise. Accepted submissions will be edited in coordination with the author.
About 20-30 submissions will be featured in the finished book.
Currently, there is no payment for contributors. Contributors may be paid if funds to underwrite the publication can be secured. Contributors will be celebrated and promoted with the book’s release, tentatively scheduled for June 1, 2016
E-mail your complete submission to email@example.com
Deadline: Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Jason Segedy, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (please send submissions to this address, as well as any questions about the project)
Interested in sponsoring this title, underwriting production and/or writer stipends? Email Publisher Anne Trubek at email@example.com.
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