Don Edwards Literary Memorial

May 24, 2010

“Syndic” Revisited

 I was nuts!

Fifty years ago, I published a literary magazine named, “Syndic”. Twenty-six years-old, an English teacher at a Catholic high school in San Francisco, and I got the bright idea to start a literary journal for high school students. What was I thinking?

Consider this recipe:  / 1960s / San Francisco / City Lights Bookstore / North Beach / Ferlingetti / KPFA Berkeley / Art Hoppe / Black Hawk Jazz Club / Fillmore District / St. Elijah’s Catholic Worker  Oakland / –  combine all ingredients, shake well, garnish with some Ammon Hennacy, and serve.

Why the name “Syndic”?  I wanted a greek word, classical sounding, something short, punchy, and a little mysterious sounding. One of its dictionery meanings is: an agent of a university or corporation. I was neither, but it was  close enough to  fit  my idea of what a literary magazine for working class high school students should be named, and besides, no one would know what it meant anyway!

A half-century later, I am hazy on many details, but my recollection is I published at least four issues, and more likely, six. Twelve pages, I think, black and white, coated paper, super glossy – expensive looking! I don’t remember what it cost to publish, or how many copies I had printed for each issue. I don’t remember where the money came from, or who picked up the tab, but strange as this might sound, as a religious brother with a vow of poverty in a Catholic teaching order, money did not seem to be an issue.

The magazine contained essays, poetry, artwork, short stories, and an introduction written by the publisher (me!) – all content was supplied by my high school students, mostly juniors and seniors.  I had no trouble finding enough content, in fact just the opposite. I was especially pleased with the front cover art work  by Daniel Sheehan, one of my students.  (I’m straining now) but one cover was  a clown, another a balloon seller, another a dancer, and so forth.  

The magazine looked great!  I was pleased!

However, “Syndic” did not sit well with some of the older religious brothers in my community. (If I was twenty-six, these older brothers might have been all of forty-five – definitely old to me!)  “Syndic” had a dark side, one suggested; another said it was negative; another wondered if high school boys should be permitted to read, let alone, write this kind of material; yet another said,  he found it depressing. My religious superior offered no comment.

Flying in the face of these “old” adult religious male celibates with their harsh reviews of “Syndic” was difficult and unnerving. On the one hand I was elated – and pleased with myself –  that students were writing and composing and had a serious-minded magazine devoted to publishing their work; on the other hand, I had to live 24/7 with my religious critics, and despite my cocksure demeanor, bordering on arrogance, I was not at all sure of myself. Somehow, I knew the “Syndic” was good for the students, but how much, I did not know, and more importantly,  could I afford to buck the political religious establishment wherein I resided? 

“Syndic ended”. Nothing dramatic, or even announced. I just stopped doing the work that made it happen. No one said a word – either students or critics. It never happened.

I have decided to revive the “Syndic” . . . I AM nuts!

Filed under: SYNDIC Literary Journal: Revived. — LeRoy @ 10:33 pm

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