Thank you essential workers by vyris
A new literary magazine sought diverse views of life during the pandemic. Photo courtesy vyris

Working late nights from their home in El Granada, GraceAnn Stewart and her daughter Sheridan sought to create a time capsule of the past few months. The goal was simple, yet vast in its scope.

Along with editor-in-chief Lani Southern, they published Vyris, a literary magazine that debuted online late last month.

With Southern and 12-year-old Sheridan in charge of production and design, Stewart sought to create an assortment of personal stories and works of art that illustrate how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the world on both a small and large scale. Through internet shares and word of mouth, the team received submissions from across the globe.

There are 49 pieces listed on the magazine’s table of contents. From a family photo in Australia to a child’s artwork in Ontario, Canada, Vyris contains powerful stories from a wide perspective. From a passionate letter by a local school teacher to the messages of support for essential workers, the content is both humorous, honest and chilling all at once. But perhaps more than anything, it’s relatable. Some of the titles include “Pandemic Train of Thought,” “Hugs Matter,” and “Surviving COVID With My Six-Year-Old.”

“We just wanted people to be involved,” GraceAnn Stewart said. “And we loved the variety of what came in because it really relates to everyone.”

The work can be downloaded as a PDF at vyris2020.com. The term “vyris” is an acronym that stands for “vivid young reflections inside souls.” Not every submission directly references the coronavirus pandemic, but all are framed within its context. There are contributions involving landscape photography and surrealist painting.

Inclusion was key for this team, and there is a wide age range of contributors. They even held Zoom meetings for those struggling to articulate their thoughts and emotions on paper. Sheridan Stewart explained that many of the written submissions were from “non-writers” who simply wanted to express themselves.

“We sat with some people who told us what they were feeling,” she said. “We wrote it down and together we formed it into something because we wanted everyone to have a chance to write.”

While the creators of the literary magazine appreciated all the submissions and requests for another issue, they’re asking contributors to instead submit content to the Coastal Literary Arts Movement, or CLAM. Sheridan Stewart will be explaining the impact of the magazine at the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors meeting at 9 a.m. on Sept. 15.

“We wanted reflections from everyone, no matter your age,” Sheridan Stewart said. “We wanted future generations to know what it was like living in this time.”

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