The Role of Campus Journals
Updated: Aug 19, 2019
Stepping out from under a sun-soaked umbrella at Triangle Spirits last week, a few friends and I made our way back to campus for the Lingua Journal release party. We arrived an hour late, but just in time for the student readings to begin. Three of my poems were featured in this spring's journal, & one of the editors asked if I'd be willing to step up to the mic first.
Lingua is the first journal I ever submitted to. They printed my first published poem. Really, they're the reason I had the courage to read the first time I did, & it was an honor, this time, to be assumed brave. To be asked to read my work, first. So I read these, my last three poems to ever be printed in Lingua:
As the audience snapped me off stage, a writer for the campus newspaper approached me & asked if I'd be willing to interview. There were the standard is poetry your form of self expression? & what feelings inspired this poem? questions & I could answer those (though I couldn't refrain from rolling my eyes). But then they hit me with this one: what do you think the role of Lingua is?
What is the role of a campus journal? Talking to University administration, one might say: to better prepare humanities graduates for the workforce, or to bolster our robust publishing program (well, at the schools that have one). Advocating for a raise from the board of student media, a student might say: to represent the school, & to create a beautiful platform. More than anything, though, the campus journal serves to uplift a community. Our community of artists.
Later that night, after providing the reporter with an unsatisfactory, stumbling response, as my friends & I applied complimentary temporary tattoos to our necks & as water slipped over our collarbones & sparkled on our hands & threatened to transgress foundation and beards alike---I realized that campus art journals are rarely about art. They're about artists. Like the students who sang us into sunset. Like the ones who made the sculptures & metalwork that fringed the room. Like the people who worked up the courage to share their work aloud for the very first time. Or like me, leaving all the more courageous, all the more connected, because Lingua succeeded in its role & empowered.