May 17, 2022

Lauran Jones on uplifting black voices through literary magazine Seabreeze – The Seahawk

Seabreeze Magazine is a publication of the Upperman African American Cultural Center to amplify the voices of black writers. (Courtesy of Lauran Jones)

Seabreeze: A Literary Diaspora celebrated the release of its second issue on February 23, with its first issue published the previous year. With two issues and a full staff, Seabreeze joins the ranks of UNCW’s creative magazines. The publication was founded in 2019 by graduate student Lauran Jones. A literary arts enthusiast who sought to increase the diversity of the arts on campus, Jones leaves a legacy at Seabreeze.

Jones is a senior graduate pursuing a creative writing major with a certificate in publishing. She has been involved in student media for four years, most recently as the editor of Atlantis magazine. She recently received a Design Student Media Award for the position, capping her career at Atlantis. Jones has also served as Secretary of the Omicron Phi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Secretary of the National Panhellenic Council of UNCW, and Student Ambassador to the Upperman African American Cultural Center.

Jones started writing in college as an escape. When her eighth-grade English teacher created a poetry-focused lesson plan, she discovered a passion for the genre. Her first encounter with publishing, however, was in high school, where she worked as the editor of their publication, Portrates and Ink. During her freshman year at UNCW, she was hired as a fiction writer for Atlantis, becoming the youngest member of the role.

“I love Atlantis, and Atlantis has given me a lot of opportunities and I don’t want to sound ungrateful,” Jones said. “But I saw a lack of people of color in published Atlantis, so I created Seabreeze.

During her sophomore year, she often visited the Upperman African American Culture Center and became familiar with the faculty and the community. When Sean Palmer, Upperman’s manager, broached the idea of ​​creating an all-black literary magazine, Jones decided to make it a reality. It was with Upperman’s collaboration that Jones was able to create Seabreeze, the first issue of which was released in 2020.

Brianna Ogoke, Lauran Jones, Mylan Parker, Tierra Ripley are all staff members of Seabreeze magazine. (Courtesy of Lauran Jones)

Seabreeze takes its name from a popular predominantly black beach in the Carolina Beach area. The first edition of Seabreeze opened submissions to all people of color, but following June 2020 with the murders of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor, the magazine transitioned to an all-black publication.

“I realized I wanted it to be a specifically black space, so now we’re an all-black magazine, and we’re a team of all black women,” Jones said. Alongside Jones, the publication is led by editors Brianna Ogoke, Tierra Ripley, Maylan Parker, Taylor Parker and Tyana Shaw.

“Black girl magic is real,” Jones said in thanks to the staff. “In many literary spaces, I’m often the only black person, or the only person of color, or the only black woman. There’s so many ‘alones’ that I could be,” Jones said. play with smart, capable black women who have the same vision as me, and to put myself on a level where only black women can understand each other, it’s an indescribable feeling.”

The Seabreeze accepts poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, visual art, digital art, photography and lyrical essays. (Courtesy of Lauran Jones)

It is Jones’ hope that Seabreeze will gain popularity and can be distributed more widely on campus in the same way as Atlantis. “Sometimes it feels like when you say ‘black literary magazine,’ it’s like a qualifier,” Jones said. “We’re a black literary magazine and there’s power in that, but we’re also a literary magazine first and foremost, so I hope people don’t think of us as just ‘the black club’ or ‘the black club’. ‘black writing’ We are that, but we are also great.

Following Jones’ graduation at the end of this semester, Brianna Ogoke will take over as editor for the 2022-2023 school year, continuing publishing. Jones plans to take a year off before entering the world of publishing and continuing to speak out for black voices in literature.

“I created Seabreeze for the first year myself,” Jones said. “I lived in a ward where I was the only black person. The first year was a tough adjustment for me, so Seabreeze is for me who needed space as a black creative. And I hope that [news of Seabreeze] reaches a black freshman, and I hope it makes them feel like they belong.

Copies of Seabreeze can be found at the Upperman African American Cultural Center and online through their website.