Journals offer students creative
By Anne Bromley
the Universitys many scholarly journals, Meridian
A Journal About Women stand apart by involving students through
internship-style, credit-bearing classes. Students have the opportunity
to dig into the editorial process and cultivate these literary
publications from start to finish. Their pages are bursting with
poems, stories, book reviews and essays for national and even
many university-based journals provide hands-on experience for
creative writing students, Meridian gives editorial control to
the staff of graduate students pursuing Master of Fine Arts degrees.
make all the real decisions, said Jeb Livingood, an assistant
professor of English who serves as the journals faculty
power of everyones ideas, including my own, and the
power of communicating those ideas is what really brings
Editor Jett McAlister, a second-year M.F.A. student in poetry
writing, took Jeb Livingoods Literary Editing
class, which is closely affiliated with Meridian, in spring 2001.
She also has worked closely with John Lundberg, the outgoing poetry
editor, on choosing which poems to accept and publish in the journal.
look first for emotional and intellectual heft and maturity. I
want to learn something from a piece, McAlister said. The
piece should, of course, be linguistically interesting as well
avoiding clichés and so forth.
Younger, a second-year M.F.A. student who is fiction editor this
year, gained editing experience as an intern at a small publishing
house in Boulder. It has been useful to see how many submissions
come [to Meridian], the different types and ranges of quality
in manuscripts and the different cover letters, she said.
with advising four to eight graduate-student editors, Livingood
teaches the Literary Editing class, which exposes
select undergraduate and graduate students to the ins and
outs of publishing a literary magazine. As poetry and fiction
readers, students help chip away at the growing number of
the way, the class members write book reviews, do author interviews,
and attempt some nonfiction essays to develop their own publishing
credentials and editing experience. They also learn about
desktop publishing, proofing techniques and marketing efforts.
is a lot of reading more than I think most students anticipate,
Livingood said. Thats typical of real-world writing
and editing, though, where youre expected to do twice the
work for half the pay.
week in the Meridian class, Younger hands out manuscripts
to the readers and the next week they give back their impressions
what the story was about, how well it was done, and
whether to reject it, send an encouraging reject, or if it is
a possible acceptance. After that, I collect the manuscripts and
read all of them to see if I agree with the readers
impression, Younger said.
example of the journals growth: it received 100 short story
submissions in 1999, and the same number this year in January
with its reality-training, Meridian, only 5 years old, has a national
distribution. Its really quite exciting to have students
and their selections representing U.Va.s commitment
to the arts, he said.
journal recently began a more formal partnership with the University
Library, whose Special Collections department has assisted in
researching works for the unique Lost Classic section,
which features an unknown or underpublished work by a well-known
author. The librarys communications and publications staff
helps with production, and the library has provided space for
A Journal About Women, which explores meanings and images of feminism,
has depended on an all-volunteer staff for many years. Now theres
a coordinating editor whos on the faculty, part-time graduate-student
workers and undergraduate interns, along with the volunteers,
who produce the journal twice a year. The Iris intern staff
who number 15 this semester, up from five three years ago
decided to target twentysomething women more specifically, according
to Kimberly Roberts, a lecturer in the Studies in Women and Gender
Program who became the coordinating editor last fall. The magazine,
which began in 1980, will continue to include womens creative
expressions of poetry and fiction along with news (in a section
called Hot Flashes), essays, book reviews and artwork.
teaches Feminist Publishing and Scholarship to the
student-interns who plan and produce the journal. They solicit
and assess submitted articles, using critical reading and editing
skills. They consider stacks of stories and poems. In addition,
the students discuss feminist readings and issues each week.
students take ownership of the work, Roberts said of the
students. With their energy and excitement, they are younger
women who want to change their world.
In their course evaluations, students talked about that involvement
and what theyre learning.
a part of Iris, I feel like I am making something I am
making a difference, wrote one student.
book review and interviews taught me the most valuable skills
applicable to academic life, said another. Any good
social scientist or academician needs to be able to evaluate an
authors purpose, style, strengths and weaknesses when sourcing
Interviewing should be a more common practice in
undergraduate work since information-gathering is so often person-to-person
in the real world.
student Sandra Beasley, who is the poetry editor, called Iris
and the Womens Center a haven for meritocracy. What
matters at the end of the day is what I have accomplished, and
nothing more and I thrive on that. More young women need
access to that environment.
also are contributing more of their own writing to the upcoming
issue, which focuses on womens emerging voices, and includes
a section called Girl on the Street, where staff randomly
asked women, Do you identify yourself as a feminist?
Twenty-five out of 50 said yes. When asked, Do
you think youll see gender equity in your lifetime?
43 said no.
shows we still need feminism, Roberts said.
I think I learned from this class, wrote one third-year
student, was something that I already knew but had forgotten:
the power of everyones ideas, including my own, and the
power of communicating those ideas ,is what really brings about