By Lori Dresner, News Editor
The rainbow-splashed cover and the multitude of student works inside Litmag 2016 graced the hands of many at the magazine’s annual launch party on April 29. The party was held in the Pilot House in the Millennium Student Center from 5 to 7 p.m. About 50 people attended and were able to get their hands on a copy of the latest magazine, which is run by students and accepts creative works from University of Missouri—St. Louis students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Litmag’s launch party featured live readings from several authors and artists. Best Poetry and Prose Submission contest winners and Wednesday Club winners were honored and recited some of their works. Ron Austin, an UMSL alumnus of the MFA program and professional writer, was the keynote speaker and recited one of his newer stories called “From the Dirt.”
Zachary J. Lee, junior, English, was the recipient of the Best Poetry award for his poem “The Storm.” The Best Prose award went to Litmag production staff member Amber Scholl, senior, English, for her story “Secrets of Eden.” Each received a certificate and $100 award from the English Department.
Kate Watt, lecturer in the English Department, has been the faculty advisor for Litmag since 2013. She gave remarks onstage about the publication process of Litmag, the work the staff put into producing the magazine, and the generosity of the student organizations and faculty members who made this year’s Litmag possible. She thanked, in particular, the English Department, the MFA program, Frank Grady, Chair of the English Department, Steve Schreiner, MFA Program Director, the Graduate Writers Association, which co-sponsored the magazine’s production this year, and the UMSL Writers Group, who specifically co-sponsored the launch party.
Noting that they received more than 200 submissions across campus, Watt said, “And so it made our job very difficult because unfortunately we received more submissions than we ultimately had pages to print. And though it was sad for us to have to pass on some of the pieces that were submitted that really were of high quality, it only shows that the talent here on campus is alive and well.”
Watt also called the Litmag staff committee onstage to be recognized for their work in the publication process. Chairpersons and members of the advertising, public relations, publishing, and production committees gave remarks about their individual committees and what it was like to be part of the staff.
“We got to really get to know all of the pieces,” said Megg Roth, senior, English, who was on the publishing committee. “We went through word by word just to make sure that the voice was able to be established and make the pieces just the best pieces they could possibly be. We loved every minute of it… It was a really rewarding task to get to see these pieces published after all their hard work between us and the authors…”
The 2016 edition of Litmag contains the works of 20 different authors. The cover art was designed by this year’s Best Art Submission contest winner Grace Gogarty, senior, educational studies. Titled “Burger of Life,” it shows a rainbow hamburger that is chockfull of colorful fruit, bubbles, flowers, seashells, and more.
Litmag primarily receives submissions from undergraduate students, although works are welcomed from graduate students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Poetry, prose of all genres, and artwork are accepted. There is a limit of five submissions for each one of those categories, but students can submit in all categories. The submission period is open from October 15 to around the end of February, so there is a six-month stretch where students can submit works. Guidelines for submitting to the magazine are posted on the English Department website.
“It’s great for students who are in the English Department or who are taking creative writing classes, but by no means is it restricted to those students,” said Watt.
As submissions are collected, the Litmag staff comes together in the spring for the English Department’s course offering, Editing Litmag. The course essentially works as an internship where students receive three credit hours to publicize the magazine, solicit students to submit, and raise funds. Litmag is in part funded by the English Department and the MFA Program, but the staff raises additional funds by selling advertisements in the magazine and taking donations.
Watt said, “We’re really pleased with the pieces that were submitted this year. There’s some really top notch, high quality writing going on on this campus, so we were really thrilled to get the stuff we did.”
Copies of Litmag will be available for free on the MSC bridge on May 2 from 10 to 4 p.m. They will then be available for pickup in the English office on the 4th floor of Lucas Hall.