"Wings Cut" by Watsonville artist Jessica Carrasco has been chosen for the cover of this year's Journal X.

WATSONVILLE—The second edition of a literature and arts journal created by Cabrillo College English students will soon be published, and the public is invited to celebrate with students and contributors this Friday.

Xinachtli Journal, or Journal X, features poetry, short stories, essays and art. It is compiled by an English 1B class at the school’s Watsonville center, and emphasizes social justice issues and cultural identity and pride.

Writer, English instructor and Watsonville resident Victoria M. Bañales had noticed a disparity in the creative writing offerings at Cabrillo, and set out to create something specifically for the satellite location.

“We have so many opportunities in the Aptos campus,” Bañales said. “All the creative writing classes are in Aptos … you can take poetry, fiction, anything. The Porter Gulch Review, the student newspaper, The Writing Awards … There’s a lot of neat things in Aptos, but nothing here. There was a real inequity, and I wanted to change that.”

Journal X will be published and released this summer, but an event will be held this Friday evening in celebration of the end of the semester. A group of contributors will read their work, and a short film by a local artist and Cabrillo student, Kalie Granier, will be screened.

Initially, Bañales reached out to David Sullivan, whose own English 1B class has put together the Porter Gulch Review for decades, for help on creating Journal X. However, she eventually decided to take on the project herself.

“My brother was like, ‘Why don’t you just do it?’” Bañales said. “At first I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t even know where to start.’ So I picked David’s brain, and asked others for advice … slowly it came together.”

Rather than students reading already published texts, Bañales’ class functions as an editorial board, sifting through hundreds of submissions and choosing what will be included. They undertake a literary analysis of the works, and interview authors before compiling the journal. 

“A lot of them have never done creative writing, ever.,” Bañales said. “But by the end of the class, they start to feel more confident. I have them make about 99.9% of the decisions. They’re very good at what they do.”

Bañales said she had envisioned from the beginning to theme the journal around social justice. Topics such as immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, race, diversity, gentrification, police brutality and more are explored, as well as cultural identity and pride. However, there were a handful of unrelated submissions that were “too good” for the students to pass up.

“It gives it some levity because some of the social justice ones can be heavy,” she said.

The reach of Journal X is growing. Writers and artists from as far away as Chicago and Mexico submitted for publication this year. 

An artwork by Watsonville artist Jessica Carrasco was selected for the cover of this year’s journal. Her piece, “Wings Cut,” was also selected for the magazine’s Best Art Award, for which she’ll be recognized Friday.

Watsonville City Councilmember and writer Rebecca Garcia will also be featured. Garcia said she began writing memoirs for her grandchildren six years ago. Last year, she wrote “Am I American,” an article inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist José Antonio Vargas. 

Garcia explained her experience being part of Journal X, from being interviewed by a student to submitting her work. She praised the project for giving higher education opportunities to local students.

“Writing is artistic, but it also can serve to heal,” Garcia said. “In higher education, it is academic. As a teacher I saw so many of my students mystified by writing … Whether they write for art or write to heal, I hope Journal X will motivate them.” 

The Journal X Celebration will be held Friday 6-8pm at the Cabrillo Watsonville Center, 318 Union St., Room A150. Face masks will be required.

For information on Journal X and Friday’s event visit their website. You can also contact Bañales directly at [email protected].

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Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


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