Literary journal attempts to make art more accessible in Simcoe County

The Northern Appeal is a bi-annual literary art journal born out of Simcoe County.
The Northern Appeal is a bi-annual literary art journal born out of Simcoe County. Hannah Jackson / Global News

Simcoe County’s literary art journal is now accepting submissions from local artists for the August edition.

The Northern Appeal is a biannual, non-profit, literary journal which showcases the work of talented artists from the Simcoe County and Muskoka region. The journal, which includes poetry, short stories, photography and artwork, was founded by Barrie residents Victoria Butler and Will Crosson in 2016.

Butler says she was inspired to start The Northern Appeal after reading several literary journals while living in in Toronto for university. “I found it really easy to access a lot of artwork in Toronto. There were a lot of opportunities for artists and writers to get their work out there,” she said.

However, when she moved back to Barrie, Butler found the art scene to be lacking. “When I came home from university, there was nothing. There are no real opportunities. That’s something I have been really frustrated with since high school, because I was writing a lot and I wanted to have an opportunity to put my stuff out there.”

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Butler says when Crosson approached her with the idea of starting their own literary journal in Simcoe County, she jumped at the opportunity.

According to Butler, the ultimate goal of the The Northern Appeal was to make art more accessible in the area. “We wanted to make it really community based, and really focused on the everyday person, and make art very accessible for everybody,” she said.

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So far the journal has done just that, and Butler says feedback from the first three issues has been very positive. “It’s been really good. People were really excited that this was happening. I had a lot of people tell me that they had been inspired to actually write something, or go out and shoot photos, or make art work, and that they feel really happy that they can be included and to get this kind of exposure,” she said.

Butler says it has been both a relief and exciting to have a literary journal in the community to showcase local talent. “I think about me in high school, sitting on journals full of writing but feeling like I had no one to share my work with. I felt very isolated without a community of like-minded people, and ran off to school in Toronto to try to get away from a place that I thought had nothing to offer me. I’m really happy that we have begun to foster the type of community I used to wish for, and that we can start to bring people of all ages together to appreciate each other’s creative work.”

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Butler says 80 per cent of the first three issues of The Northern Appeal have been comprised of art from Simcoe County and Muskoka-based artists.

However, Butler says The Northern Appeal is always evolving and trying out new things. Butler says the fourth issue will be no exception.

“We’re mixing things up this time and doing a themed issue. The theme is the natural world and culture and how they intersect.” Butler says this decision was in response to the overwhelming amount of nature-themed submissions she and her team of editors received over the last three editions.

The journal accepts submissions in the form of poetry, prose, creative non-fiction, and black and white photography and artwork. Submissions are open to all Canadians until June 30, with the fourth issue scheduled to be published sometime before the end of August.

Previous copies are available for purchase online and at local Barrie businesses Bohemia, Extreme Imaging, and the Maclaren Arts Centre.

More information regarding The Northern Appeal, and information regarding how to submit can be found here.