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There’s a sense of release about writing this Editor’s Letter because it means the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle is now in place. It means our hard work of putting together the whole magazine has paid off. It means the final checks are done, the end of countless rounds; it means we’re about to push the button and send it to the printers, it means we can pour ourselves a large glass of wine – a lot of wine and finally exhale! This has been the hardest, the most fun yet challenging edition we’ve ever produced. But in the end it has been worth it. This summer, after all the blood, sweat and tears, having clocked up more transatlantic air miles than I care to count, we’re delighted to launch our US edition, the sibling to the fourteen-years-old, but still going strong London, UK original. Litro US may be American accented but like its European original, it will aim to provide a platform for many and richly diverse voices, to be a vehicle I hope for ideas and truth and at least a bit of light, in what are from any outlook dark times.
The speaker for the 2019 Harvard Commencement ceremony Angela Merkel, who has been the chancellor of Germany for nearly fourteen years, recalled how as a young woman in what was then East Berlin, she walked toward the Wall each day on her way home from work. “At the last moment” she had to “turn away from freedom.” Though the Wall had fallen, Merkel said new ones were being built within societies and between nations. Democracy should not be “taken for granted,” but neither, she told the graduates, should people assume that they were powerless: “Let us surprise ourselves by showing what is possible.”
Bad times of course on either side of the pond. In the old country the fumbling attempt at economic and social suicide they call Brexit is a seemingly endless national humiliation, while here in the States there’s that erratic liar of an “extremely stable genius” and his “wall”, rising far-right nationalism and white supremacism, the opioid crisis, a fresh assault on abortion and LGBTQ+ rights … but it doesn’t all need rehearsing here. And so Litro USA’s opening theme is Desire, with a focus naturally on Desire as love – as romantic longing, sexual whether straight or LGBTQ+ – rather than Desire as greed, as the lust only for money or power that’s so corrupting our society right now. Love not hate, bridges not walls, hope not fear. So these stories – even the more out-there ones – and essays and art reflect that attitude, and reflect on and engage with these fraught times we live in.
We’ve increased the size of the magazine to give our contributors’ words more room to breathe and, especially, allow our art and photography – in this issue Noa Grayevsky’s cover and photo sequence, beautiful images of black faces, bodies, lives – the space they deserve and your eye needs to drink them in.
It would be impossible in this space to thank all those from over the past fourteen years who have turned a hobby and desire into what is now not only a full-time job but a transatlantic publication that would itself need its own edition – but for now I’d like to thank the Litro Media Inc board members: Robert J Reicher, Maria Salvatierra, Fiona Balch, Andre Des Rochers, Tess O’Dwyer, The whole of the Litro Team, Jim James DIT, Somerset House Trust, George Cox, Christine Bave, Brigita Butvila, Mark Moody Stuart, Nikki Barrow, Ocean Akoto, Elizabeth Serwah, Ajay Kumar, Sanjoy Roy, Carole Warren, Isabelle Dupuy, Alice Burnett.
Eric Akoto is Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts by invitation. Akoto founded the Warwick University Young writers competition and has written for various publications and contributed to various books on culture. He also guest curates and comperes at festivals such as The Brooklyn Book Festival, The Jaipur Literary and Arts festival (the largest in the world) and The Hay Festival. He is the founder and editor of Litro Magazine a fully fledged literary and creative arts platform supporting emerging and established writers in New York and across the USA. Founded in London by Akoto over 15 years ago. Prior to Litro Akoto was the founder of the publishing house Ocean Media Books. He is 40 years old and currently resides in New York and London.