by Clare Gates, Staff Writer
Student writers and artists waited for news of acceptance or rejection as if Generation Magazine was the Salon de Paris. The wait is finally over, and approximately 500 free copies of this student-run magazine will appear around campus on December 7. This annual publication is invaluable to the cultural life of the Saint Vincent College community; Generation gives artists and writers of all majors a place to publish their poetry, prose, artwork and photography. Nevertheless, the majority of students do not know the identities or responsibilities of the sixteen students among them who created the magazine as part of Professor Michelle Gil-Montero’s Magazine Production course.
“Generation Magazine is entirely by and for Saint Vincent College,” said Gil-Montero, the creative writing professor who takes an unusual approach to teaching this Magazine Production class. She explained her teaching strategy: “In a nutshell, I guide students in making choices and intimidate them into meeting deadlines. In the first week, I organize the group into editorial teams and set up a student leadership structure.” Even though Gil-Montero once edited the student-run magazine Glimpse that was eventually bought by National Geographic, she limits herself to the role of advisor.
“I restrain myself when it comes to making decisions. That way, every year, the magazine reflects the ideas of the group of students who worked on it – not my own ideas or aesthetics.”
Members of the Magazine Production class decided which submissions would reach the eyes of the community and which pieces would remain in obscurity. This year’s staff is certainly not limited to English majors and includes Editors-in-Chief Jillian Janflone and Diana Petrovich; Managing Editor Michelle Stepien; Content Manager/Poetry Editor Megan Matich; Fiction Editor Emerson Duym; Nonfiction Editor Susan Mohall; Submissions Managers Angela Gartner and Sarah Eidemiller; Design Editor Carly Marsh; Design Assistants Anthony Marquis and Zach Allan; Assistant Content Editors Emma Goetz, Ryan Kearney and Josh McClosky; PR Manager Kaitlyn Pieri; and PR Assistant Steven Major.
This editorial team used Facebook, posters, emails, SVC today, and classroom visits to successfully encourage students to submit to the magazine via email. In Petrovich’s words, “Our team worked diligently on getting the word out to the campus that there would be a magazine and that anyone could submit. We had a very successful turnout for submissions.”
In fact, according to Janflone, “We were honestly planning to get only a few fiction/non-fiction pieces, and so we left out a word limit. Instead, we ended up with triple the normal submissions and had to focus on shorter pieces. I just wish we had more pages, honestly.”
The group of editors and assistants used an extremely structured process to sift through the plethora of submissions. Gil-Montero described the proceedings: “Over the three years that I have been advising the magazine, we’ve fine-tuned an organized and rigorous selection process. There is a content staff, led by a Poetry Editor, Fiction Editor, and Nonfiction Editor. The content staff members read an anonymous packet of submissions prepared by the submission managers and meet to discuss each piece before they vote. I personally do not vote or discuss any of the pieces, but when it comes time to review the staff’s selections with the editors-in-chief, I give my input. For example, this year, we only published one piece of literary work by any given student, and some students had various pieces accepted in the anonymous selection process. In cases like that, the editors-in-chief decide which of the selected pieces is ultimately published. Artwork is voted on by the entire magazine staff, also anonymously.”
Matich said of the selection process, “I think that having responsibility for someone else’s work was the most magical part of this process. I wanted to treat each submitted piece, even the not-so-good ones, with the respect that writing always deserves. We received some very personal work and I’m proud to say that the entire staff worked to ensure that those pieces were treated with objective eyes.”
Students whose work doesn’t make the cut sometimes harbor resentment towards the publication, particularly because many students who submit to Generation Magazine do not understand the selection process. Junior History major Jessica Turriziani described her experience: “I submitted a short poem. I wrote it about how I felt the day I went to see the Phantom of the Opera, and it was really emotional for me because I used to see it with my dad all the time and he’s deceased now. The pictures I took were landscapes; poppies and lemons in Pompeii, thistles and the governor’s palace in Williamsburg, and a canal in Venice. Generation didn’t give me a reason as to why I was rejected; they simply said they couldn’t use any of my stuff at this time. They did encourage me to try again next year, but when I was rejected, I wondered why. On what criteria did they select these pieces? I’m not sure how this magazine is run exactly. I also feel that they should take almost everything. This is a magazine of student talent, yet they’re being selective with what they publish.”
Another student (who wishes to remain anonymous) received a rejection notice from the Generation staff and said, “I would say their selection is probably based on who they know.”
Unfortunately, dissatisfied writers and artists rarely take their questions and opinions to the editing team itself; many of these students accept their fate like artists rejected from the French Salon.
“I haven’t been aware of opposition,” said Gil-Montero, “though I invite feedback. The staff always begins the semester with a critique of the previous magazine. It’s a good place to start – they always find areas for improvement.”
Matich gave advice to students who plan to submit to Generation in the future: “The best art goes beyond the norm and says or does something shocking; extraordinary. Polish up your work; make it something you’re proud of. Submit something that really pushes the limit. The quality of the Generation staff is always phenomenal – they’ll spot a great piece from a mile away.”
Professor Gil-Montero leaves us with an example of one such find; a quote from a piece by Dan Rubino: “It’s sincerely tacky. It’s seedy in a vibrant sort of way. It’s a breath of fresh air covered in a cloud of smog….It’s a wonderful accident…”
Copies of Generation Magazine as well as refreshments will be available at the launch party on the evening of December 7 at 8:00 in the Carey Center. The Generation staff will also give away coffee and magazines in every dormitory during the week before finals.