By Gianluca Russo
In a time when print media is dwindling away, the magazine and writing industries have made the switch to digital platforms, staying up to date with the desires of the everyday consumer. Among these publications are literary journals: collections of gorgeous creative writing that range from simple poetry to extensive pieces of fiction. Still though, literary journals have taken a hit when it comes to readership. A group of students at Schenectady County Community College is aiming at changing that.
A small yet mighty group, SCCC’s literary club, Rhythms, is working hard to spark creative writing on campus. The club has been active for many years, but as time went on, interest deceased. With the departure of its prominent faculty leader, the club was unable to publish a journal during the 2015-2016 school year. It was a sad time for members of the group, and the following year, they came back determined and ready to regain momentum.
“Creative writing and literary journals help us express hard-to-talk about topics or things that might not come up in normal conversation. Especially the pieces published in literary magazines; they bring light to things we wouldn’t normally talk about,” said Lindsay Buell, current President of Rhythms.
Planning began at the start of the fall semester to ensure a literary journal would be published in Spring 2017. The question arose as whether the magazine should stay in print or go digital. The choice was made to publish it electronically.
“Since more magazines are being published electronically (as was the case of Rhythms for these last two years), students definitely prefer the accessibility of online magazines,” said Yesenia Coello, a member of Rhythms during the 2016-2017 school year.
From photos to poems to short stories, the members of Rhythms were able to pull together a large group of students to submit their original work. There were downfalls and bumps in the road, of course, but the group powered through, determined to bring the magic of creative writing to the SCCC community.
“Literary magazines are a place for anyone’s voice to have the spotlight and college students are interested in seeing how others view the world as well as discovering new pieces which fascinate them. Furthermore, literary magazines are another way for hopeful writers and poets to get published, something that most yearn for,” said Noah Smith, former Vice President of Rhythms.
Coello added, “When I first joined Rhythms as a freshman I was determined to take the opportunity to work with literature. Having come from a high school where there were no literary magazines or monthly publications, you could say I was a bit deprived. Literary magazines are a great way for budding writers to acquaint themselves with the editing and publishing process. In Rhythms we would regularly review submissions and send them back for revision for grammar mistakes, etc. Even working as an editor under the guidance of fantastic professors has made me a better editor!”
The group received great feedback upon publication, both from students and faculty. Many reached out about joining the team, and the group, currently led by Buell, is gearing up for its 2018 issue.
Buell, along with other members, refused to accept that “print is dead,” however. So, after digitally publishing the literary journal last May, they released a limited copy of printed journals as well.
“There’s just something so intimate about physical literature. Since most of us live our lives behind a screen it’s nice to take a break from it and physically interact with the fruits of someone’s labor,” she said.
As the group continues to grow and flourish, they look forward to elevating their journal and increasing the amount of students interested in creative writing on campus.
“The goal of Rhythms was never to just publish a literary magazine. Sure, we were able to start that up again which was fantastic, but that was not our aim,” explained Smith. “Our aim was to spark creativity upon college students and to get them to explore a side of themselves they may not be familiar with. With the small group we have assembled, we were able to help each other grow upon our skills and learn to view life from many different angles.”
Regular contributor Gianluca Russo is a freelance writer who attended Schenectady County Community College and now attends UAlbany.