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David and Art - “More Little Magazines”

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Getting a piece of creative writing published for the first time can give a big boost to young writers.

Last week I mentioned a journal called The Paris Review, which, along with other similar magazines of much smaller circulation than, say, Sports Illustrated, provide an outlet for writers to publish new and experimental work, and that give other writers a way to experience what’s new. “The new generation of writers,” said Charles Robinson in 1978, “from Frost, Pound, and Elliot to Anderson, Joyce, Hemingway, and Faulkner—found sympathetic editors, not at the publishing houses, but in the little magazines….”

Often, arts and humanities programs at universities publish something akin to little magazines. Since 1926, the University of Nebraska has published one called Prairie Schooner. The Southwest Review—which began as the Texas Review in 1915 down in Austin—is now published at SMU. They and many others provide writers a forum for artistic experimentation and growth and, for readers, a way to encounter new works.

At Baylor University, the Department of English publishes a yearly magazine called The Phoenix which contains an array of poems, short stories, plays, and even music written by Baylor students themselves. Claire Keck is one of my former history students and worked with the magazine last year as an assistant editor. This year she’s one of its senior prose editors.

With The Paris Review in the back of my mind, I asked her what the purpose was of The Phoenix. She said it provides an outlet “for creative students that they don’t otherwise have. Sure, there are classes that cover creative writing in prose and poetry, screenwriting classes, art classes, and music classes, but there are very few situations in which students can do these things for fun and have those fun activities be recognized.” She added that it also “allows the editors to get a chance to learn whether editing in that field is something they want to pursue.” I hadn’t considered that.

Critically, such publications are not only for the writers and artists whose works appear in their pages. They’re for the community at large. In this case, for the entire student body.

Keck says that The Phoenix “is a way for students to better engage in the arts, whether or not they contribute to the magazine.” She says that the university publishing the journal allows students “to read their peers' creative writing in a non-classroom setting. It inspires creativity in a different way than class does.”