Litmag showcases campus community’s creative talent
Eamonn Wall, the Smurfit-Stone Corporation Professor of Irish Studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, helped kick off the launch of Litmag Friday night with a humorous reminiscence about his college literary magazine.
“In my own college, University College Dublin, we had a literary magazine called St. Stephen’s,” Wall said. “It was called that after the location of the university originally on St. Stephen’s Green right in the center of Dublin. It’s still running today but is most famous for refusing to publish an article entitled ‘Day of the Rabblement,’ by James Joyce. That James Joyce, of course, turned out to be the greatest writer ever. So, if there’s anybody here in this room who submitted to Litmag this year, and their work was not accepted, think of James Joyce.”
About 50 members of the UMSL Community gathered in the Writing Center in the Social Sciences and Business Building to celebrate the launch of the 34th installment of the annual student-run UMSL literary and art journal, which is comprised of works from campus creators.
Wall, an accomplished poet himself, congratulated the Litmag staff, as well as the published artists and authors, faculty advisors and everyone who submitted work to the publication. He has sponsored Litmag for 10 years and views it as an indispensable creative venue on campus.
“It’s really important that students have an opportunity to have their work published,” he said.
Emily Stewart, who is graduating with an MA in English, served as editor-in-chief and led a culling of about 200 submissions down to the 46 pieces of art, poetry and prose that made up Litmag’s final selections. Stewart said the Litmag staff was “spoiled for choices” this year and noted the quality of submissions was exceptional.
The staff aimed to publish a vibrant set of works that also represented UMSL’s diverse community.
“The last two Litmags have been very reminiscent of the pandemic and the times that we’ve been in,” Stewart said. “We still wanted to bring that sense of gravity and understanding of where students are at with that, but we also wanted to say, ‘Let’s also find the bright moments in that time and honor the messy feelings of having those things happen alongside things that are very devastating.’ We wanted to have moments where you laugh and things are a little silly or very tender.”
Kate Watt, Litmag faculty advisor and assistant teaching professor of English, felt the staff succeeded in its vision. She also touted the new partnership with the Department of Art and Design to help produce the publication.
“Now moving forward, we hope Litmag students in the English department and in the writing certificate program are going to start collaborating with graphic design students and faculty to combine our efforts and make a publication that is a little more dynamic in terms of its design and layout,” she said. “This was kind of the pilot year for testing that out.”
During the event, five authors performed readings of their work, and Litmag staff members presented prizes for best art, creative nonfiction, fiction, multilingual writing and poetry.
Taylor Weintrop, an English graduate student, won the poetry contest with her piece “Working Hard for What” and shared it with the crowd. Stewart commended the poem’s innovative structure and Weintrop’s ability to address a difficult, yet familiar, feeling.
“‘Working Hard for What’ captures the feeling of reaching out and trying to grasp and grapple for something that is just out of reach,” Stewart said. “It also offers some hope for what happens when we finally do take that by the hand.”
Watt was excited to launch Litmag in-person this year after two digital launches due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She noted that it’s a well-deserved opportunity for the authors and artists to share their work and to be celebrated by the UMSL community.
“I’ve really been missing that the last couple of years,” she said. “So, I’m excited for that to be a part of our celebrations this year.”
“It’s very nice to have an in-person event where everybody can feel the excitement for people, especially the artists who’ve been published,” she said. “It’s lovely to see faces and put faces to names for contributors because that’s not been particularly possible the last couple of years. It’s wonderful.”
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