Clark’s literary and art journal the Phoenix unveiled its 37th edition on Tuesday, in correlation with Clark’s annual week-long Subtext Literary Festival. The student-run magazine, released every spring since 1981, is filled with artwork from students, staff, faculty and alumni.
English professor Elizabeth Donley and art professor Kathrena Halsinger advise the literary and art side respectively.
“It’s fun to work together and work with a diverse group of students,” Donley said. “I love watching them get excited about this publication.”
Halsinger, who took on the art advisor role of the Phoenix in 2003 believes the publication can offer students a glimpse into other people’s experiences.
“Sharing those emotions is what I hope our audience gets out of it,” she said. “That human connection.”
Donley took over as the literary advisor in 2013 when the previous one retired.
“It was a great fit because I teach a lot of the fiction-writing courses,” she said.
Prose Editor Ashlee Nelson helps look over each submission and decided which pieces will connect most with readers.
“It’s a really good stepping stone for people who want to express themselves creatively,” Nelson said. “A lot of [the artwork] is people coming from a place where something negative has happened to them and how they learned to live with it or move past it.”
Nelson said the first piece she submitted that the Phoenix published was a short poem, but it made her feel validated as an artist. “It opened my eyes and made me feel like my art was worth something after all.”
Managing Editor Megan Robb said she originally got into writing to express herself without needing to talk.
“It’s about finding yourself through a tough situation,” Robb said. “I got divorced and I had this long time of not knowing who I was anymore. It was about finding myself again.”Robb was introduced to the Phoenix when staffers visited her English 101 class.
“They were giving away copies and it boggled my mind,” she recalled. “It was like ‘How are you giving them away for free?’”
As editors, their duties involve reading submitted pieces, critiquing what’s strong and what needs work about them and choosing which pieces send the best message to the community.
“I think art is hard thing for people who aren’t artists to understand,” Colin Smith said, layout editor for the Phoenix. “If you don’t know the art world, it’s hard to understand the art world.”
As layout editor, Smith’s duties require him to sift through typefaces and make sure the layout of the pages look consistent with each other.
“It’s sort of administrating all of the boring stuff that goes into making a publication,” he said.
Submissions are open to all students, staff, faculty and alumni and a variety of work is accepted, including poetry, short stories, photographs and paintings.
“In every year that I’ve done this the book has looked different. It truly is an individual vision,” Donley said. “I think for the students I work with it’s one of the most worthwhile experiences they have at Clark.”
The Phoenix recently won the National Program Directors’ Prize for design for undergraduate literary magazines by the Association of Writers & Writing Programs for its 2016 issue. According to Donley, it’s the second time a community college has won the award since 2001.
Students who wish to pick up a copy of The Phoenix can do so at Archer Gallery or at Hanna Hall Room 111.