Newest edition of Litmag showcases campus community’s artistic, literary talents

by | Jun 8, 2016

Spanning 90-some pages, the student-run literary magazine's 2016 edition offers up a carefully curated selection of written and visual pieces.
"Union Pacific" by Afton Joiner

The painting “Union Pacific” isn’t Afton Joiner’s first work to appear in Litmag, but it is her favorite, says the UMSL art major. (Images courtesy Kate Watt)

Driving home to Illinois from the University of Missouri–St. Louis one day, art major Afton Joiner noticed a freight train chugging along beside Interstate 64. The way the sunlight was hitting the locomotive took her breath away – and also revealed her next steps on an abstract oil painting she’d been puzzling over.

“At that precise moment I knew what had to be,” says Joiner, whose finished painting appears within the latest issue of Litmag, an annually published, UMSL-student-driven literary magazine. “I had not until that point created a piece of work with my father in mind. He used to work for the Union Pacific railroad. I decided to photograph a few trains and use the images as my inspiration, also changing the engine number to 0823, his birthdate.”

"Ascension" by Amber Scholl

Amber Scholl’s visual piece “Ascension” appears on Page 54 of the newest edition of Litmag, a literary magazine she also helped produce alongside fellow UMSL students on staff this past year.

“Union Pacific” is one of 20 artistic and literary pieces that fill the 2016 edition of Litmag, which was released last month and is in its 28th year. Produced by a team of UMSL students working under the guidance of faculty adviser Kate Watt, it’s a publication that Joiner considers central to her time on campus as a creative individual.

“After my first submission and the pride I felt along with the excitement I saw from the Litmag staff, I knew I had to continue submitting work until I graduate,” she says. “Litmag is truly a wonderful outlet – it encourages students to continue doing what they love and that no matter how many ups or downs they have with their passion, there is always someone else who will take pleasure in what you create.”

Watt describes the process as “not unlike preparing a meal,” with much care and consideration going into choosing “the best ingredients” for readers.

“We reviewed hundreds of submissions, so many of which were laced with memorable characters, rich imagery, keen insight and remarkable craft,” Watt says. “It was a momentous challenge to choose which pieces to showcase. The artistic and literary talent we have on campus is truly impressive.”

Sarah Hayes, who was part of this year’s Litmag staff, says she wouldn’t trade the practice putting together a professional, high-quality literary magazine for anything.

"Burger of Life" by Grace Gogarty

Senior education major Grace Gogarty’s “Burger of Life” cover art was Litmag’s Best Art Submission contest winner.

“That’s the kind of experience you can’t get in most other classes,” says Hayes, who is also editor of The Current’s arts and entertainment section. “The most challenging part would probably be choosing which pieces go into the magazine. There were so many great pieces that didn’t get in for one reason or another.”

As a member of the production team, Hayes helped organize and design the pages and the page matter. Her personal project was the cover design, featuring the work of fellow student Grace Gogarty.

“I think the cover came out rather beautifully and eye catching, so hopefully people see it and pick it up,” says Hayes, whose own short story “Yuki-Omba,” inspired by Japanese mythology, also appears in the publication.

To access a digital version of Litmag’s 2016 edition, click here. And for a free hard copy, stop by UMSL’s Department of English in Lucas Hall.

Submissions open in October for the 2017 issue. Those interested in submitting fiction, poetry, nonfiction, photography or other artwork will find guidelines here.

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Evie Hemphill

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