What started swamp pink?
February 22, 2022 | blog, news
Nearly twenty years ago, Crazyhorse found a home at the College of Charleston. Between then and now, we’ve taken great pride in publishing exceptional writing. For a time, admittedly, our objective seemed clear and singular. We have arrived at a place where the holistic nature of what we do—the symbolic properties of what we are and the foothold of power we possess in literary visibility and representation—has come into necessary and long overdue focus. Not only does the history of our magazine and its name, by its very presence, carry the weight and consequence of an oppressive history, so too does the silence and inaction of our collective in all the years leading up to the present.
Crazyhorse was founded in Los Angeles in 1960 and titled after the Lakota Chief, Crazy Horse. In the years that followed, it traveled to Murray State in Kentucky, then the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, before finally arriving in Charleston. None of these institutions are geographically significant to Crazy Horse or the Lakota people, nor, to our knowledge, are any of the individuals who shepherded the magazine through its many phases, culturally or racially entitled to the use of Indigenous language. Our name is and always has been an act of exploitation.
In the fall of 2022, we published our final issue. We’ve begun anew under our new title, swamp pink.
Swamp pink is a perennial member of the lily family, indigenous to the Carolinas. In 1988, swamp pink was federally listed as a threatened species due to environmental encroachment, development, and the introduction of invasive species.
Though we hope that the disavowal of our longstanding appropriation of Lakota culture will be a step in the direction of a more equitable and inclusive literary landscape, we know that it is, at most, the repudiation of an inexcusable wrongdoing and, at least, a gesture. This is not our moment to have, just as it was never our name to assume.
As a masthead and as a magazine, we are eager for the opportunity to promise ourselves to a fundamental regeneration. We are proud of the voices we’ve showcased over the years, writers and minds we admire, and we are indebted to the art they’ve given life to in each and every issue. Moving forward it is paramount to us that our magazine not only platform and celebrate diverse voices but do so with the interests of folks for whom the stakes of equity are highest, to whom the distance between where we are and where we want to be is most intimately known, as our bellwether. Beyond interrogating the power of our name, we vow also to disrupt the power structures inherent to our institution—from our masthead to the words within our pages. We are not beginning a conversation; we are merely endeavoring to shoulder our own weight in one that is ongoing.
As our community, we hope you’ll feel encouraged to share your thoughts, ideas, and criticisms with us. Thank you for your readership, your creation, your imagination—both of art, and of its decolonization. We are open and listening, and know that there is no stasis in revision, nor restitution.