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Eye of the Beholder: A Peek Into the Judging Behind the Soundings Journal Submissions

Each year, a dedicated team of literary and artistic appreciators on campus put together a journal dedicated to creations made by different people across campus. 

“For me, ‘Soundings’ is a community which extends beyond the staff members and artists who have contributed either through contests or in the journal,” Senior Rylee Schmidt said. “As someone who grew up in a family where reading was a group activity, I’ve always approached literature specifically as a way to connect and spend time with others, and I think that’s the real beauty of ‘Soundings.’”

The ‘Soundings’ journal is a short publication which features poetry, prose, photography and visual art from Oklahoma Christian alumni, professors and current students.

“My favorite part of journal submissions is always when you come across one that makes you have to just stop and sit back in your chair,” Schmidt said. “The artists who submit are so talented that I just love it when you don’t see a plot twist coming or come across visual art that just takes your breath away.”

The journal encourages  work that pushes the boundaries of artistry and puts new spins on age-old concepts.

“I’d say we’re growing as an organization by trying to be as open-minded as possible when it comes to reading and selecting submissions for the journal. So far, we have seen and accepted various kinds of submissions that slide into all kinds of different mediums and genres,” Junior Jaxson Pearson said. 

Journal submissions are taken annually via Google Form and can be found on the ‘Soundings’ website

 “When we review journal submissions, we, of course, read through them throughout the week and then fill out a form that asks whether we believe a given piece should be put into the journal. These forms are then reviewed during meetings and we discuss what we think should and shouldn’t go in the journal. We then take a vote on each piece and place them in different folders depending on the final vote,” Pearson said. 

Submitted pieces are not judged through traditional means. Rather, they are chosen for their ability to make the audience feel emotion.

“I love reading, so I’ve enjoyed some really great, and to be honest, objectively speaking, not so great books as well. Frankly, I don’t think great literature is always as narrow a definition as we think it is,” Schmidt said. “I think truly great literature often makes people who don’t really like to read actually keep reading, which really opens up that definition. Of course, artistry and form are important and beautiful elements to consider, but great literature makes people think and feel, regardless of their understanding of formal literary techniques.”

Ultimately, a book of rules cannot truly decide what ‘good art’ is and is not. Artwork is wholly subjective, and ‘Soundings’ treats it as such. 

“Great literature often demands freedom of thought and openness to new ideas, so it seems strange to limit our own perception of what kinds of literature can actually do that,” Schmidt said. 

The 2024 ‘Soundings’ Journal will be released on April 10.

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