Proximity: A Quarterly Collection of True Stories

March 11, 2014 § 2 Comments


pBy Towles Kintz

In the fall of 2008, when I was knee-deep in new motherhood, I received an unexpected opportunity. Maggie Messitt, a friend of mine from graduate school, wanted to know if I’d join her and another Goucher grad, Carrie Kilman, on a literary adventure of sorts.

The plan was for the three of us to launch a blog that would celebrate both the diversity of the world around us and our inherent interconnectedness. We would choose one location or point in time (bus stop, library, evening) and spend an hour there, resulting in a blog filled with immersion and personal essays that would become Proximity.

At the time, Maggie lived in South Africa and worked as a narrative journalist. Carrie had recently moved from Montgomery, Alabama, to Madison, Wisconsin, where she freelanced her way through a new city, and I lived in Atlanta and had mostly surrendered my writing life and aspirations to the beguiling work of motherhood.

Each of us sought connection in our own way.

For me, Proximity became a beautiful little lifeline; it was not only an opportunity to reflect and write at a time in my life when reflection, much less writing, was at a minimum, but it also gave me a window to the world during what was an otherwise isolating season of life. When all three of our essays posted, it felt like magic. Each was unique to the author’s perspective, narrative voice and experience, but underlined a sort of universal understanding of and appreciation for one another. The project lasted a year.

Then, in the summer of 2013, Maggie called me again. She wanted to know what I thought about reviving Proximity, but this time as an online literary magazine. Again, each issue would be theme-based. We would choose nine submissions – including flash, mid-range, long form and multi-media – and publish once a quarter. To help elevate this new take on an old idea and build a digital publication that would stand the test of time, we invited Traci Macnamara to join our cross-country editorial team. Together we span rural and urban, southern and northern, Appalachian college town and mountainous ski village.

And so, Proximity was re-born, but this time with greater reach and more varied perspectives. We launched our first quarterly collection of true stories in January with the theme Morning, and in it you’ll find some real gems – offering readers a layered, unqualified rendering of mornings spent in introspection, in observation, and at work. And, just as we sought years ago, we found a single theme through which to highlight our great connections and vast differences around the world, from Antarctica and Botswana to Tennessee and Maine.

This expanded format serves to amplify what our original team started. In an age where connecting so often happens with the help of technology, the stories we publish offer serious grounding in a place or time that may be very different from our own. It is also somehow relatable, and in being relatable serves to foster greater understanding and connectedness in a world that sometimes seems as small as the little devices stuck to our palms.

As a former contributor to Brevity, I would like to invite you, readers and writers of true stories, to submit to Proximity’s upcoming issues (themed: Crossroads, Stuff, Wilderness). For guidelines, or to read our stellar writers’ work in Issue #1, visit www.proximitymagazine.org.

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