By Candy Rendon
“I like to read poetry, and I especially love to write it,” Amanda Hixson said. “I knew there were other writers out here in Waco like me, and I wanted to give them the opportunity to express themselves openly.”
Hixson is a former Baylor journalism student and is currently owner and editor of Bohemia, Waco’s Art & Literary Journal. Through he work, Hixson tells her story of finding inspiration in previous schoolwork and seeing a collaborative success in a collection of friends and volunteers.
The magazine, which was first released in July 2011, examines the pulse of Waco’s music and writing scenes along with art exhibits and gallery openings. The articles provide readers with views on current community news regarding a wide variety of arts and event promotions with several contributions from writers and bloggers all across McLennan County.
Hixson explains her educational background, with schools like Baylor University and then later McLennan Community College as perfect gateways to creative initiative.
“When I was a student in middle school working for the front page of the school paper, I knew that I wanted to write,” Hixson said. “When I made it to Baylor University, I was writing for The Lariat as a reporter. After some time writing articles, my material started to get in [a poetry magazine]. I realized that my writing could take me out into the professional world with a lot of responsibilities, and I loved it.”
Hixson says a lot of her decision to develop and own the magazine came somewhat unexpectedly. While she had pursued other careers, she found that she was consistently drawn back to writing.
“Later, when I went to MCC to seek a degree in children’s education, by chance I took a creative writing class with Jim McKeown, and that eagerness to write was ignited once again. I started to write my poetry again, and I submitted my material to MCC’s arts magazine, ‘The Stone Circle,’ and I got my writing accepted.”
Jim McKeown, an English professor at MCC, avid blogger, and current assistant editor to “Bohemia” says that Hixson is a talented writer.
“When she was in my creative writing class, I saw instantly that she was talented,” McKeown said. “Her poetry kept getting better and better as I would check up on her collection of works. She always had a clear vision for her material.”
“Well, I came up to Jim McKeown and told him that I wanted to start a magazine,” Hixson said. “A way to unite the Waco arts community was finally in reach and I wanted his advice for starting up ‘Bohemia.’”
McKeown says she came up to him with lots of questions, but he also says she knew exactly what she wanted and was capable of making necessary things happen.
“At the beginning, she quickly started with three writers and three photographers,” McKeown said. “She was talking to friends of friends, and she was already planning themes for the upcoming issues. The ads would pay for the printing, and the rest was coming from the pockets of staff. She is driven, and I was just happy to help in anyway that I could.”
McKeown said he was granted the opportunity to work on the first issue by funny coincidence.
“Something happened with one of the writers,” McKeown said, “and Hixson wanted me to write something for the magazine. So I began to work on one of my short blog pieces and just started to expand on it. After its release I found a nice following with my piece and so it began.”
Now, places like Croft Art Center, Beatnix Burger Barn and the Legacy Café are interested in getting Bohemia out into the public more.
“I think one of the best aspects of Bohemia is their blog aspect as well,” McKeown said. “It allows a whole lot more of the community to stay connected.”
“Common Grounds, Art Ambush, and the schools here — Baylor University, MCC, and TSTC, along with other Waco locales, are keeping Bohemia going,” Hixson said. “Just a few weeks ago, Legacy Café allowed the ‘Bohemia’ staff to move their work to the top floor of their building. That is so awesome. The community is so gracious to us all. It has been a blessing indeed.”
James Lafayette, the owner and operator of Legacy Café and Art Gallery at 723 Austin Ave., said Bohemia makes the art community closely knit family. Hixson came to Lafayette to discuss possible involvements with Legacy Café’s poetry nights.
“Amanda’s vision is so clear and precise that our views just seemed to be identical,” Lafayette said. “I instantly fell in love with her ambitions and the magazine. No one else has come up to me with so much passion about Waco’s art scene. What better way to stay involved than with Bohemia?”
“I never knew that Bohemia would pick up so much momentum so quickly,” Hixson said. “We have almost 300 subscribers here in Waco, and it is already growing. It is exciting to see some of Waco’s talent get some much-deserved recognition.”
Hixson said she still has goals for the magazine.
“There are two things that I want to accomplish with Bohemia,” Hixson said. “One, I want to ensure that I’m having fun along with the staff, and two, to ensure that we are giving back to the community. Happily, we have done both. My friends have been so special to me and the magazine.”
For more information about Bohemia, Waco’s Art & Literary Journal and Amanda Hixson’s progress with the Waco community go to www.bohemia-journal.com.