Paper Lanterns is a new Irish literary journal that discusses all things teen and young adult literature. The journal was founded by Grace Kelley, Ruth Ennis and Amy O’Sullivan in January 2020 and aims to produce four issues per year. Each issue consists of three sections: creative writing, features and book reviews. Our first issue is due to be published in early April 2020.
We, the three founders, met while doing the M.Phil. in Children’s Literature in Trinity College Dublin from 2018 to 2019. The idea of creating a journal that focuses on teen and YA literature occurred to Grace during the academic year. She kept the idea in her head – having the good sense to wait until after the college dissertations had been handed in! – then approached Ruth and Amy to propose they work together to create this journal.
The literary scene in Ireland is one of enriched content and diversity and is part of a broader community that is incredibly supportive of new initiatives. There are established literary journals across the country, and an increase of new journals emerging. Paper Lanterns was inspired by these journals and magazines, including The Stinging Fly, Banshee, Children’s Books Ireland Inis Magazine, The Moth, Sonder and Channel. While there are a few journals that focus on children’s literature and include some teen and YA content, we found there were no printed journals in Ireland that are dedicated to this growing literary scene. We wanted to address that.
There are excellent organisations and festivals dedicated to celebrating literary content for teens and young adults. Events such as Eason’s DeptCon, The Lit Festival, and organisations like Fighting Words, showcase the wonderful community of young people in Ireland that share their love for books and writing. We wanted to provide an outlet for young people to engage with their passion for literature in a new capacity. The primary goal of Paper Lanterns is to create a platform that showcases the voices of young people. We want to read their creative writing, share insights and news surrounding this community, and promote the best books that are being published for this audience.
Grace Kelley manages the Creative Writing Section of Paper Lanterns. For our first issue, submissions were open for three weeks, during which we received 130 submissions. We were astounded and humbled by the quality of short stories, poetry, flash fiction, art and photography sent to us. Our submissions are open to anyone over the age of thirteen years of age. While we know that there are plenty of talented young people in Ireland, we were blown away by the wisdom, humour and compassion demonstrated in the submissions. We were also so impressed by the work of writers and artists over eighteen years of age who wish to create content for a teen and YA audience. Themes to expect in this issue include environmentalism, fantasy, young love, and what to expect when working in an ice-cream van in the summer! There is a mountain of insightful, inspiring and imaginative writing we are sure younger readers of the journal will love to read. Between both groups, we have complete faith that the teen and YA literary scene will only continue to thrive.
Ruth Ennis manages the features and essays section of Paper Lanterns. For our first issue, we are excited to have had the opportunity to interview the Laureate na nÓg, Sarah Crossan. As her time as Laureate comes to an end this May, we were delighted for the opportunity to hear her reflections on her time with this initiative and what she is looking forward to doing in the future. We were also delighted to interview Karina Clifford of Dubray Books, discussing her innovative #ReadIrishWomen challenge which is due to commence in April for its second year. However, the heart of the features section lies with the pieces written by Ben Screech and Rebecca Downey. Ben has produced an fascinating analysis of the representation of mental health in teen and YA literature, with close readings of books that expertly address the topic. Rebecca, our teen features writer, has created a fantastic personal essay discussing how her love for ballet and books taught her an important lesson on the importance of diversity in the media she consumes. We’re proud of the unique insights our contributors have to offer, and we can’t wait to share them with you.
Amy O’Sullivan manages the reviews section of Paper Lanterns. When we are open for submissions, we are also looking to recruit a dedicated team of book reviewers. We were inundated with enthusiastic emails from many readers, both teens and adults. Our reviewers have a broad variety in tastes, from those favouring fantasy and adventure, to those preferring realism and drama. We have established a community of readers eager to receive a copy of the latest books and give them honest and engaging reviews. We are grateful to the publishers who produce and provide wonderful content for our readers, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future. We are always looking for more people to join our review list and encourage anyone who loves reading teen and YA literature to get in touch with us. We are also looking to expand our variety of books, and welcome publishers of teen and YA literature to contact us to arrange a review of their latest titles.
We are eager to publish and share our first issue this April. We have received submissions from all over the world and are looking forward to showcasing the breadth of talent we have encountered. Issue One will be available to purchase on our website www.paperlanternslit.com, as well as in select bookshops across Ireland. We will also be opening our submissions for Issue Two later in April.
(c) Ruth Ennis