Paper Lanterns: a new teen and young adult literary journal

Co-founder Ruth Ennis on the challenges and joys of launching a new literary magazine

The Paper Lanterns logo,  designed by Eleanor Brayden

The Paper Lanterns logo, designed by Eleanor Brayden

 

Paper Lanterns is a new literary journal, founded in January 2020 by Grace Kelley, Amy O’Sullivan and me, Ruth Ennis. It is to be published in print four times a year. Acting as a platform to promote the voices of young people in Ireland and across the world, this journal provides new and exciting content for a teen and young adult audience. It is also perfect for enthusiasts of teen and YA literature; from teachers and librarians, to parents and youth workers.

The journal is divided into three sections. Our creative writing section showcases work from talented teens, as well as work from adult writers of teen and YA literature, tied in with beautiful artwork and photography.

The features and articles section includes original essays on trends in the YA literary scene and inspiring observations from our younger contributors on the world around them. You can also expect some exciting interviews from authors and literature enthusiasts.

Our reviews sections offers an insight into the latest books for teens and young adults, from readers younger and older. You will also find details of our seasonal book club in the journal, where we discuss a book for older teens and a book for younger teens on our social media and on Goodreads.

The journey of this journal’s first issue has been unforgettable for many reasons. The three of us undertook our MPhil in children’s literature at Trinity College Dublin together, finishing in the summer of 2019. Grace came up with the idea of a printed journal to showcase the creative writing of young people in Ireland. She approached Amy and me last October to see if we were interested in pursuing this project. Of course, we agreed, and set out to announce the journal’s beginning on New Year’s Day 2020.

The cover of issue one, with artwork la gente es colorida by Allie Rafferty, designed by Fiachra Johnston
The cover of issue one, with artwork la gente es colorida by Allie Rafferty, designed by Fiachra Johnston

We took inspiration from a number of organisations. Ireland has a rich community of literary journals, including Banshee, The Stinging Fly, The Moth, Children’s Books Ireland’s Inis Magazine and more recent publications such as Sonder and Channel. The support we received from these journals was a game-changer. Their advice and enthusiasm gave us the confidence to proceed and we will always be grateful for this.

As Covid-19 impacted Ireland, just as was the case for every person in the country, our plans were altered during the production process. These changes weren’t nearly as daunting as they could have been, thanks to the support we received from the literary community.

We hosted a number of fundraisers, the proceeds of which went entirely to production costs and paying our contributors, and we were blown away by the response every time. Organisations and individuals donated their time, prizes and money to help our independent journal take flight. It was heart-warming to know that our journal was not only recognised by many writers, booksellers, publishers and organisations, but that they were excited for us. We are so lucky to be part of the Irish literary community. It is close-knit, relentlessly caring and has been a beacon of light throughout the challenges we faced during issue one.

We are so proud of the content that is being published in issue one of Paper Lanterns. Our submissions are open to anyone over the age of 13 years, and we make sure that there is an equal representation of work from those over and under 18 years. Time and time again, we were amazed by the quality of the content that was sent into us.

In our creative writing section, which is edited by Grace Kelley, the quality and diversity of writing is really remarkable, with a mix of short stories, poetry and flash fiction. From our teen writers, we have themes of environmentalism, relationships, ghost stories and an appreciation of that cosy feeling of curling up with a good book.

From our adult writers, we found stories of a fantastical queen, eating disorders, summer jobs and love in the many forms it takes. The creative writing is accompanied by the beautiful artwork and photography submitted by teen and adult contributors, with illustrations ranging from chickens in love to a witch with an alluring presence.

The features section, which I edit, was a joy to produce. We were incredibly lucky to arrange an interview with Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan, to discuss her #WeAreThePoets initiative to make poetry more accessible to teens. We also were delighted to interview Karina Clifford, creator of the #ReadIrishWomenChallenge which celebrates the writing of Irish women each year. But the real gems of the features section come from the contributors. Our adult essayist Ben Screech writes on the representation of mental health in teen and YA literature. Our teen writer Rebecca Downey writes about her interest in ballerina Michaela DePrince and how diverse representation in literature is important for teen readers.

The reviews section, edited by Amy O’Sullivan, showcases the newest and best of teen and YA literature. Our teen and adult reviewers offer fair and honest recommendations of the books we send to them. There is also a helpful content warning guide, to help parents, teachers, librarians and, most of all, teens navigate the themes presented in these books.

We aim to provide as much information as we can, to allow teen readers the chance to determine if this is content that they would like to pursue themselves.

The launch of issue one will take place online at 7pm on Wednesday, April 22nd. There will be announcements made by the founding team, readings from our contributors, and the official opening of submissions for issue two. For more information, you can visit our website and follow us on social media. We are so excited to showcase the talent that lies within the future writers of Ireland.
Website: paperlanternslit.com
Email: paperlanternsjournal@gmail.com
Twitter: @paper__lanterns
Instagram: @paperlanterns_lit
Facebook: @PaperLanternsLit
Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2V4cr1L

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