By Horus Alas

It’s a hell of a time to be a publication. Times are great for journalism because, by so many other metrics, times are awful.

Our country and our world are still reeling from the election of Donald Trump as POTUS. Brexit caught us with our pants down. Marine Le Pen finished second in the French presidential elections, which many claim is too close for comfort.

Climate change continues to accelerate relentlessly. Hate speech has popped up on our campus. If you’re reading this as a Maryland student, final exams have got you stressed. If you’re reading this as anyone else, there’s no shortage of reasons to be stressed—be it over the few topics I’ve mentioned, or otherwise.

Again, it’s a hell of a time to be a publication. Democracy Dies in Darkness. The truth is more important now than ever.

On that note, I’ve been thinking specifically about this publication.

At the twilight of the Spring 2017 semester, what can The Writer’s Bloc purport to be? Who are we, and what do we do? And on what grounds might we claim to be of any import to you, the reader?

Initially, this publication focused on arts and literature. It was an outgrowth of the Jiménez-Porter Writer’s House and functioned as a creative newsletter, per founding editor Taylor Lewis’s inaugural post on this site.

In the years since then, we’ve expanded to on-and-off-campus journalism, music and film reviews, a plethora of blogs, and analysis on politics and world events, etc.

As far as content is concerned, this publication tries to offer a bit of everything. If you’re an individual like most of us on staff (we’re young, foolish and still trying to find our way in the world), you’ll probably find something that resonates with you on our site.

And if you don’t fit the same description as those who produce our content, we would still aim to find common ground in terms of universals—we’re all human. We all consume culture. We all create and participate in art to stave off the overwhelming tedium of our lives. We all live in the shadow of political figures who shape current events day by day.

We all think and feel; walk and breathe; live and die.

“In the particular is contained the universal,” per James Joyce’s observation.

The underlying contention here is that the experiences of one can at the same time be the experiences of all.

The images of three year-old Aylan Kurdi, who washed ashore drowned on Turkish soil in 2015, made those of us in the western world grapple with the horrors of the Syrian conflict. The audio and video of now-president Trump boasting of how he could “grab [women] by the pussy” made us aghast that such a reprobate could come within reach of the highest office in our country.

On a smaller scale, with the University of Maryland, College Park as its main locus of operation, this publication aims to amplify and broadcast similarly consequential experiences.

We cover Writers Here & Now events as a reminder of the remarkable power of words, and how they allow us to engage with the world. We run photo essays of the Muslim Political Alliance’s Boycott of Israel Fest on campus to prevent us from ignoring the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

We write about high school students in a creative writing class at this university who produce verse and prose pieces on how to overcome fear—because who among us hasn’t had to overcome fear at some point in our lives?

I can’t speak for my colleagues behind the articles I’ve referenced. I can’t enter into their minds and assess what they were thinking as they produced these pieces.

But I would confidently claim we did it all wholeheartedly for you, the reader.

I would claim that our website and ethos comprise stories we feel need to be shared.

I would claim each respective piece we’ve produced has stuck out to us, as young, foolish chroniclers of a world we don’t yet fully understand. I would claim our content here can contribute to a broad, humanistic understanding of ourselves and the place we occupy in this mercurial, bewildering world.

When all’s said and done, a publication isn’t much without anyone to read it. Our observations and transmissions aren’t of all that much consequence if no one’s on the receiving end.

And hence, I’d like to offer a sincere thank you on behalf of my colleagues and myself for your readership.

We do what we do for us; for you. We can only hope you remain with us as the journey continues.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jon S’s Flickr account.

Horus Alas is a senior philosophy major and can be reached at

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