Issue 35, Final Fringe

Shadowed Voices

by Janell Sims 06.26.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. Today, Publicity director Janell Sims recounts how Fringe helped her find community.

I had already been at Emerson College for a year without many good friends to show for it, when one night after class, I worked up the courage to linger a little longer and chat with a cute girl with jet-black hair wearing what I immediately recognized as an Anthropologie dress. After a few minutes, people started to file out of the classroom, and Lizzie held up an imaginary pint glass. “Janell, you want to grab a drink?” She and I gathered with several other women around the sketchy penny-covered table at the Tam, and my life was never the same after that. We talked about clothes, hair, that awful movie we had to watch in class, how so few women appear on the New York Times bestseller list, and how the literary canon was strikingly scarce of women and people of color. Well, maybe that didn’t all come up that first night, but over the course of the next year, and the next, and then the next seven, Fringe grew from an idea of trying to fix something that was wrong, trying to fill in the gaps of something important that was missing – into a way of thinking, a verb. Fringe was not just a place to publish first-time authors that would never have been given a chance at other more traditional publications because of being too weird or not fitting in, or having controversial points of view. Fringe became something we did. We aggressively sought to bring shadowed voices to light.

Growing up as a shy girl in the South, I had always felt that I didn’t belong – that what I thought and believed was so different from everyone around me, that I hesitated to ever truly express it. I always thought that was something wrong with me, and that I should try to fit in better. But it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was impossible. I finally decided to move to a city that was the opposite of what I’d always known. Completely alone, I stepped out and joined a new community. In Boston, I became a part of the Fringe family and have felt more at home in some ways than ever before. I still carry a piece of Texas in me. I still go to church, although for a while it was a winding and sometimes rocky path. I was single for a long time, then I got married. Through all of these changes, my Fringe family has loved and accepted me and, most importantly, empowered me to say what I think and feel. Even write it and publish it on the Fringe blog for [gasp] the whole world to read. Fringe brought my shadowed voice to light, and taught me to do the same for others.

Fringe Binges, a reading series, AWPs, long conference calls and lots of martinis have come and gone over the years – they are memories that have enriched my life and that I will always cherish. I will miss chatting with the team on a regular basis; I will miss the amazing fiction and nonfiction, poetry, art, (de)Classified, and criticism; and I will miss the swell of pride I always got when I told someone about Fringe for the first time. And though I will miss our labor of love, our seven-year project, I won’t have to miss my Fringe family, because they are always with me, even right now, quietly whispering in my ear to not be afraid, to let my voice be heard.

Janell Sims

Janell Sims

Director of Publicity

Janell Sims earned her MA in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College and since then, her love affair with Boston has turned into a sustained five-year relationship. She is currently Publications Coordinator at the Shorenstein Center in Harvard’s JFK School of Government, and a graphic designer on the side. She is actively involved with her local church and enjoys hosting parties, advocating feminism while sipping martinis, and listening to local music in her favorite Somerville neighborhoods. Janell is a founding member of Fringe.

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