by Andrew McKenzie—Cedarville, Ohio
Cedarville, Ohio—For students looking to publish creative writing and artwork, the options are considerably limited. The Cedarville Review has stepped into this gap, offering undergraduate authors and artists around the CCCU the opportunity to publish poetry, prose, photos, and other artwork in a journal read by fellow aspiring authors and artists.
Released every spring (and distributed through the fall), the Review is managed by an all-volunteer staff of undergraduates at Cedarville University whose mission is to "compile the best poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and photography of undergraduates from around the nation." The decade-old Review recently opened its doors to submissions from all CCCU schools and has published work from students at Belhaven College, Bluffton University, George Fox University, Houghton College, Indiana Wesleyan University, Messiah College, Point Loma Nazarene University, Taylor University, and Westmont College, in addition to Cedarville.
“We want to be a well-respected intercollegiate outlet for undergraduate literary voices — one of the very few journals that only publish undergraduate work and are fully staffed by undergraduates,” explains managing editor Nate Washatka, a senior English major from Howard, Ohio. “Very few journals are dedicated to undergraduate work exclusively. We are here to be that journal. By opening submissions to other academic institutions, we hope to broaden our audience and create a unique forum for college students."
"We're trying to encourage undergrads to develop their creative literary voices," continues Washatka. "We're trying to develop an outlet for students to publish in the academic environment, because it can be hard."
"Cedarville is a great venue because many other schools don't have their own literary journal," explains senior editor Julianne Sandberg, a senior English major from Daleville, Indiana. Sandberg emphasizes that although the Review is of particular interest to artistic people who enjoy reading and writing, it is equally accessible to those outside the literary community.
Each year’s submissions are read by the Review staff board, which decides what work merits inclusion. Faculty advisors provide input, but the decision is ultimately up to the student staff.
There is "no specific rubric," says Washatka, for what constitutes an acceptable Review submission. He adds that it is rare that the team receives a submission that is rejected outright on content or quality grounds, though selectivity is increasing along with an increasing rate of submissions. "We can afford to be more selective," Washatka explains, "to help us achieve a good variety of content, with a good mix of genres."
Sandberg notes that the Review staff strives to include submissions that, beyond being well written, are original and that "challenge our minds," portraying life in different and unexpected ways.
The latest editorial cycle of the Review saw approximately 75 students submitting one or more photos, with around 100 students submitting literary pieces. From that, the Review staff put together the 72-page volume 10 (currently on sale), which includes 19 poems, five works of prose, five photographs, and three paintings. Sandberg points out that the staff is forced to be more selective with prose than with poetry, due to the proportion of submissions.
Volume 10 also includes interviews with nationally recognized writers Jeannie Murray Walker, Michael Cox, and Tony Doerr. The staff’s goal with the interviews, according to Sandberg, is to give undergraduates perspectives on how professional writers approach their craft.
Adding to the Review’s appeal is that, as of volume 10, the artwork is printed on high-quality glossy photo paper. Including artwork makes the Review "appealing to more than one group of people," says Sandberg.
Advisors help oversee the Review staff but largely maintain a hands-off approach. Students handle all the solicitation, submission processing, editing, decision-making, design and layout, print management, marketing, and distribution. But advisors assist by keeping students on track and by giving support and, of course, advice as needed. "It's been increasingly student run each year," says Dr. Kevin Heath, professor of English at Cedarville, who has served as a Review faculty advisor since 1999.
When it comes to the Review’s nationwide expansion, Heath echoes the student editors. "We wanted to fill a need for an undergraduate journal for CCCU schools — our sibling institutions. We had the opportunity to be ahead of the pack." Heath says this is an example of how Cedarville University is committed to educating and supporting students in all academic fields.
"The thing I like best about working with the Review is that it raises the overall level of artistic awareness on campus," explains faculty advisor Ryan Futrell, assistant professor of English at Cedarville. "We've got students doing some really great things, not only Cedarville students, but also other undergrads in CCCU schools. There aren't a whole lot of venues for publishing, and this is a way for us to show their work. We're getting more recognition and exposure, and it's really becoming a national publication. It says something great about Cedarville really being on the forefront."
The Review has helped increase visibility for both Cedarville University as a whole and Cedarville's Department of Language and Literature, home to the Review. One of the department's goals is to foster future writers, along with trying to show the undergraduate world at large — including non-Christian schools — that Cedarville can publish excellent literary material. “We want to show that a small Christian school can put together a literary journal that is appreciated even by people in non-Christian schools," Washatka explains.
Washatka believes the increased number of submissions shows that the Review is having an impact. "It's going to take a while, but we're making progress. We want to do as much as we can with what we have."
Sandberg explains that the more proximate goals are to increase name recognition and get copies of the Review into other schools' libraries and English departments. She adds that the staff hopes the Review will expand in size and breadth of content in the future — as long as they continue to receive high-quality submissions.
Volume 11 of the Review will be released in spring 2008. The Review is currently soliciting submissions from students at all CCCU schools. For details on submitting writing or artwork, visit www.cedarvillereview.com. Submissions are due by February 1 and may be sent to review at cedarville.edu.