SUSSEX COUNTY-According to an Emily Dickinson poem, "Hope is the Thing." And now, "The Thing" is a new Sussex County literary magazine created by Eileen Fanning Fisher. The quarterly magazine has just been awarded a Puffin grant based on its efforts in its first year of existence that have included interviews with the late actor Christopher Reeve and Frank McCour, author of the best-selling novel "Angela's Ashes." The success has inspired Fanning Fisher to set her sights even higher. "My magazine is a very different sort of publication in as far as my goals are to prove that great art heals," she said. "When you look at beautiful things, it can help the immune system." With a background in journalism and having worked as art and entertainment editor for a publication called Vector Magazine, Fanning Fisher knew how to put out a magazine; that was not her problem. Financing it was. "I used my savings to put out the first issue of The Thing, then for the second I got some advertising money and it has gone on from there," she said. The magazine has a circulation of approximately 3,000, which Fanning Fisher, who lives in Vernon with her husband Scott and daughter Molly, hopes will increase substantially once the word gets out. "This magazine is uplifting and encourages people to feel that they have the power to change the way they think, that mountains can be moved if we move in the right direction," she said. With April being National Poetry Month, Fanning Fisher has gotten together with the Olde Village Book Cellar in Olde Lafayette Village to sponsor a poetry contest open to every age group. Entries must be in by April 10 and will be judged in various divisions including adult, collegiate, grades 9-12, grades 6-8 and junior. Finalists will be invited to recite their poems in the Village Hall at Olde Lafayette Village on April 23 or 24 and the winners will have their poems published in the The Thing Magazine's fifth issue to be published in May. "Submissions and encouragement in any form would be greatly appreciated so that we can have the best possible literary magazine in Sussex and surrounding counties," said Fanning Fisher. One-year subscriptions to the magazine are $10 and can be purchased by mail at THE THING MAGAZINE, P.O. Box 54, McAfee, NJ 07428 or through the magazine's Web site: thethingmagazine.com For information on the poetry competition, visit Olde Village Book Cellar, call 973-383-0040 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.