‘blue moon’ garners national recognition for literary, visual art

caitlinhardee

The outstanding quality of submissions to last year’s “blue moon,” volume 22, recently secured  the magazine a major distinction when, in late December, it won the Columbia Scholastic Press Association‘s Gold Medal award, and advanced as a finalist with approximately 15 other publications in the running for CSPA’s prestigious Gold Crown. The magazine’s editors stressed that the success of the volume came primarily from the excellence in and number of submissions, which were due one year ago this Sunday, Jan. 31.

Junior and Co-editor of last year’s volume Jenna Mukuno was flattered by the honor, but not entirely surprised, explaining the different factors that combined to make volume 22 particularly strong.

“I would say that the greatest strengths of issue 22 were our sense of restraint and our innovation with the new DVD insert,” said Mukuno in an e-mail. “This past year, we found that the staff was . . . more selective with what went into the magazine. The DVD insert was also a major accomplishment. Both Glory [Bushey, junior and volume 22 co-editor] and I were quite clueless about the process of making a DVD, and we had to be pretty fearless about taking it on.”

Current Co-editor senior Jane Collins agreed that the DVD insert was key to success.

“I believe the defining aspect of volume 22 was the addition of the [DVD] that included new digital media art created by Whitman students,” she said. “This innovative attitude is something that [Co-editor senior Marcy Manker] and I are hoping to continue with the publication of issue 23.”

“This is the second time in three years that we’ve been Gold Crown finalists,” said Manker. “It’s yet to be seen if we’re going to get Gold or Silver Crown this time around, but it’s still a pretty big accomplishment to be a finalist. Out of the 1,500 high school and college publications that they accept, there’s something like 15 college magazines that get Gold Crown finalist.”

Mukuno, who oversaw last year’s lengthy selection and compilation process provided some insight as to how the process works.

“Each submission pool, whether art, prose, poetry or new media, is so varied from one another that it’s always interesting to see how the final product comes together as a cohesive magazine,” said Mukuno. “I think it’s partly how our staff selected the pieces, but also how, for example, a piece of visual art interacts with a poem on the opposing page. At times, we had control over those sources of tension, but other times it’s completely out of our control how two works converse on the page. There are also strict parameters within layout that sometimes force us to alter our initial decision to have the order of submissions a particular way. All sorts of factors can confine ‘what the staff wants.'”

“blue moon” adviser and Assistant Professor of English Scott Elliott credits the nomination to Whitman’s liberal arts culture as well as the oversight and editing of the magazine’s staff.

“On the basis of this award, [the CSPA] invited me to their conference to speak about advising literary magazines. Their assumption is that, because we’ve been successful for so many years. . . ” Elliott said, shrugging self-deprecatingly. “But I think the success of ‘blue moon’ comes from the atmosphere on campus, and from the talent of the students coming here. It’s not [me] at all. I think we do really well because of the healthy culture that’s been established. The fact that we are, year after year, in the running, says a lot about the quality of the literary and visual arts here on campus.”

Both Manker and Mukuno spoke hopefully of volume 22’s chances at the Gold Crown, but emphasized the honor of nomination and multi-year recognition by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

“It’s national recognition and our name is on the Columbia Scholastic Press Association with only [15] other names as finalists: I think maybe the school would want to give us more money for getting our name out there and getting recognized consistently,” Manker said with a laugh. “But the school has never actually [told us], ‘Good job! Here’s more money.'”

Mukuno concluded with her hopes for widespread campus submissions to the next volume, which are due Sunday, Jan. 31.

“What’s great about ‘blue moon’ is that each year a new staff comes together and collaborates on a new issue. For all the advice I was given before I was co-editor, sometimes there’s absolutely no way of predicting how things will go,” said Mukuno. “This year’s staff has a different vibe than last year’s staff, and I can already tell that next issue will be different from the last. As far as students working on future submissions, I’d say be fearless and submit to the magazine. Submit! Submit! Submit!”

Guidelines for submissions are on the ‘blue moon’ Web site at whitman.edu/bluemoon.