It's hard to believe that The Awakenings Review is already ten years old.  What a terrific landmark!  In a time when so many other journals have failed to survive, AR has continued to thrive with riveting and important new work.  It plays a truly important role in the life of American letters and the life of the American mind.  We are all better off for its presence.  Congratulations to Robert Lundin and others involved.  Here's to the next ten years!

David H. Lynn
The David F. Banks Editor of The Kenyon Review
Professor of English
Kenyon College

(Editor’s Note: David Lynn’s words are especially meaningful to us since over the years The Awakenings Review has emulated The Kenyon Review in style and content. The KR has been published for 70 years at my alma mater, Kenyon College.)  

With this issue of The Awakenings Review we mark our 10-year anniversary of publishing this startling little journal. The staff and I have had the distinct privilege of bringing to the public the words and images of scores of poets and writers who have, in turn, imparted the authenticity of their lives, lives greatly influenced by the terrible trauma of serious mental illness. Personally, I have shared some of the distress in my life in these pages and I am humbled by the words of caring and concern that have come to me in return.

I muse upon the beginnings of The Awakenings Review, when it was just an idea that I presented to Dr. Patrick Corrigan at The University of Chicago.  I had been an impoverished but proud freelance journalist before taking a job there.  Even though I was writing for The Chicago Tribune and other DuPage County dailies I didn’t make enough money to pay for my printer ribbons, much less health insurance or anything more than a grimy studio apartment. So when Corrigan offered me a real job with his research group at the University of Chicago with a real salary and benefits, I jumped at it like a hungry dog for a can of Alpo.   

In a few months, after testing my mettle, Corrigan put me to work revitalizing Psychiatric Rehabilitation Skills, a journal he founded, but one that had recently lost impetus. Much of the groundwork for the journal had been laid, so I ploughed into the job like a duck landing on water and new issues of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Skills began to creak to life.

The year before I got my job, I had bonded with a small but passionate cadre of artists to found the Awakenings Art Show.  By 2000 Awakenings was starting to gain momentum, (it’s now a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization called The Awakenings Project. See for a look at our activities.) I was filled with verve for the undertaking, and its goal of sustaining people with mental illness via art in all its forms. This clearly meant to me that Awakenings should support a literary journal, and now having a practical amount of experience in publishing, I went to Corrigan with the idea.

I had begun arranging for artwork from Awakenings artists to be presented on the covers of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Skills. This was met with substantial acclaim, so to my keen satisfaction, Corrigan was agreeable to my idea of a literary magazine and soon rustled up funding for its debut. Now, what about a name for the journal? Though it was a University of Chicago undertaking, in my heart I knew it had to be called The Awakenings Review. I obediently listened to my boss come up with alternatives, like “The Oracle,” but Corrigan read my face and read my mind, and voilà, we created The Awakenings Review.

In a few months the first issue emerged, with the drawing “Eldest Daughter,” by the late Trish Evers, an Awakenings Project founder, gracing the cover. Finding material to review, that is to say, material about mental illness written by contributors with mental illnesses, was ironically never a difficulty, especially once we advertised in Poets and Writers magazine. We were deluged. We tapped a wellspring. Daily I began to receive more mail in my box than any other staffer at our research center, including my mystified and somewhat impressed boss.  

Over the last decade we have continued to draw submissions from all over the U.S. and several foreign countries.  We’ve had special issues, such as one written by people with depression/manic depression, and another written by contributors with schizophrenia and related disorders. In a climate where start-up journals frequently fall by the wayside, The Awakenings Review has never shied from its mission: to publish, and bring to the community of American letters, the work of people with mental illnesses.  I can boldly say that we continue to value your submissions, contributions, advertising, and good will. As David Lynn exclaimed, here’s to the next 10 years!

Some of the people who have helped us immensely over the years to which I am greatly indebted are: Irene Lamb O’Neill, Sean T. Lamb, Lisa Morehead, Virginia Goldrick, Sandy Mazurek, Ben Beyerlein, Samuel R. Himes, Ryan Chacey, Jess DeNegri, John Rakow, Wendy Liles, and of course, my parents, Robert W. and Margaret Lundin, who gave us all the support and encouragement we needed to keep it going.  And thanks to you, dear reader, we shall continue.

Copyright (c) 2010, The Awakenings Project