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A Season of Stories

Letter from the Editor

     This spring has been one literary season for me and I’ve been loving it. Of course there is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) annual conference in the first half of the year which happened in early February. That kicked off a string of other literary focused events for me including Summer Words at American River College in Sacramento, where I hosted a workshop with my friend and UTGT Associate Editor Kate Asche on submitting to literary magazines. At that event I got to meet and spend time with Angela Morales, who led a workshop there and was also one of the readers in the line up of the nonfiction reading I hosted at AWP. I also got to hang out with Claire Bidwell Smith, whose new book After This is on my #TBR (to-be-read) list.

     The weekend right after Summer Words, some of the UTGT staff and I went down to Berkeley for the Bay Book Fest where we had a table and got to talk with enthusiastic readers about art, publishing, and telling true stories. One day after that event I hopped on a plane for Chicago for work but I was also to sneak in some downtime with my cousin who lives there. We went to the book launch party for We Are Never Meeting In Real Life, a collection of essays by Samantha Irby. And my time in the Windy City also happened to span the weekend of Printer’s Row Lit Fest, which is a smorgasboard of book sellers, small press publishers, and writers.     

     Also while in Chicago I had the opportunity to read a piece of my own flash nonfiction called “The 10 commandments of Good Christian Girls” at Feminist Happy Hour, a variety show for women identifying artists. The first time I read that piece in front of an audience was at True Story in Sacramento and I was surprised by the reaction—people laughed! I didn’t think it was funny and I certainly didn’t write it to be. But I think that speaks to the power of sharing stories: an audience reaction can help bring new perspective to an experience that you’ve always interpreted in a certain way.

     Whew! It’s been a jam-packed couple of months and I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to some downtime this summer, laying in the sun and reading my stack of TBR nonfiction books and memoirs. Of course this new issue of Under the Gum Tree will be added to that pile. It’s perfect summer reading. I’ll be on the beach shore of Lake Tahoe reading about the varied experiences of life that have been so generously shared by the contributors in this issue. These personal stories about life’s big decisions, formative events, dealings with shame and pain, juggling the changing wider reality with our own personal realities, are amazing and not one of them is like anything I’ve read before. More wonderful stories to add to this literary season. Won’t you join me?

     We’d love to know where you’re reading Under the Gum Tree this summer. If you are on Instagram, snap a pic of the magazine in your favorite summer reading spot and tag us (@undergumtree) to be sure that we see your post. You may just end up being featured on our feed.   


     Enjoy your summer, friend!

     Here’s to telling stories without shame,


     Janna Marlies Maron
     Editor & Publisher