College Students Get Lit

Good literature is alive and well, thanks to local higher education. The University of Evansville and University of Southern Indiana collectively publish six literary publications each year — two by faculty and four largely produced by students. They showcase a variety of pieces — poetry, creative non-fiction, short stories, and visual artwork — and involve enormous effort. “A lot of time goes into this,” says Paul Bone, creative writing department chair at UE. “All the submissions have to be read. Then you discuss whether you’ll take them.”

Nicole Louise Reid, associate professor of English at USI agrees, explaining that submissions must be organized, “blinded” (made anonymous to reviewers), and critiqued. Then there’s the administrative work.

A group of ambitious USI students produce FishHook under the leadership of Reid. Likewise, a handful of UE students work up The Ohio River Review under associate creative writing professor William Baer. Both journals feature the very best of student contributions. Reid says, “Ultimately, (the editors) are looking to be moved by the art of the writing or the visual art.”

Meanwhile, another team of UE students publishes The Evansville Review under Baer, and a small number of interns help Bone and Rob Griffith, associate professor of creative writing, produce Measure. While The Evansville Review exhibits a variety of genres, Measure is dedicated to poetry. Both journals serve up the finest efforts of national aspiring writers. “You want to find the best work you can,” Bone says. “It’s not that so much stuff is bad, but really good stuff is so rare.” Less than 10 percent of submissions to Measure are accepted.

All four journals allow faculty to remain current in their discipline and provide students with real-world editorial and publishing experience, fields many of them are likely to land in after graduation. Both Reid and Bone consider this training invaluable. “We want to stay involved with the literary world with these publications,” Bone says. “But it’s also great for the students.”

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