Now in its 46th year, "The Laurel Review," a nationally regarded literary magazine published by the Department of English and Modern Languages at Northwest Missouri State, is in many ways the heart of the university's efforts to foster excellence in creative writing.
The magazine, whose spring edition recently came off the press, is produced by Northwest English faculty along with students serving either as interns or taking the department's publication skills course.
Issued twice a year, the journal has a circulation of about 1,000 readers and features fiction, poetry and essays from writers around the world. Authors appearing in its pages have included Pulitzer Prize winner Rae Armantrout.
"One reason we have interns is that getting to read all of these submissions from these writers is really helpful if you’re trying to figure out your own voice," said Richard Sonnenmoser, assistant professor of English. "It helps you to figure out what people right now are writing, and what they’re sending to magazines. That leads to having a better sense of what the landscape is like for creative writing."
So as students work their way through scores of submissions, they also learn from a smorgasbord of styles and techniques as practiced by gifted creative writers, many of whom are faculty members at other universities.
"I always look for writing that is not just to entertain, but something I haven’t seen before, or a style of writing that I admire or might want to emulate," said Alyssa Striplin, who recently completed a bachelor's degree in English at Northwest.
"The more I'm here, the more it opens up opportunities for me with what I want to do for the rest of my life. It makes what I want to do and what I’m passionate about in life have meaning and have a place in this world job-wise."
Part of "The Laurel Review's" value is the opportunity it affords for unearthing undiscovered talent and revealing it in print. Another perk, from the faculty's perspective, is exposing students to the literary review process.
"There’s also the thrill of people receiving it and the students being a large part of it," said John Gallaher, associate professor of English at Northwest and a "Laurel Review" editor. "Editing a magazine can be personal, but when you open up the tent and bring a whole bunch of people in it becomes communal, and it becomes something larger for many people."