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Photo by: Henoc Kivuye
Soundings, the award-winning writing and art journal, is preparing for its annual publication.
Soundings has earned many national awards from Sigma Tau Delta international English honor society. The journal won first place for the Best Literary Journal in 2007, second place in 2008 and an honorable mention in 2011.
Hallie Stapp, a senior at Oklahoma Christian University and the editor-in-chief of Soundings, has been involved with the journal since her freshman year, and started on the staff last year.
“Freshman year I had a photograph published, and my sophomore year I had a poem published,” Stapp said. “Knowing others from the English department and a few individuals who worked on the Soundings staff got me involved with the journal.”
Stapp’s role with the journal has evolved from being a contributor to being one of the literary editors, and now to the editor-in-chief; but that does not make the position any easier.
“The editor-in-chief has one of the final decisions, if a piece is in question, whether the piece makes it in or not,” Stapp said. “Myself and Dr. Briley have the final word as to whether or not it makes it in or not. I am responsible for managing all the stuff, since there is a much larger staff this year.”
Stapp be directing the journal with nearly 20 staff members who have joined Soundings this year. Stapp will be helped by the sponsor of Soundings professor Rebecca Briley who has prior experience with such journals.
“I have sponsored other literary journals in the past at other places where I have taught, so I do have the experience,” Briley said. “I love working with all the literary and artistic talent and helping them achieve the most they can. I think Soundings has a lot to be proud of.”
Briley explained how the journal continues to attract more students.
“Our writing program has grown, and we have given a lot more attention to creative writers and given people more opportunity to explore that side of themselves and that talent,” Briley said. “That in itself, I think, got more people writing and interested in publication, so naturally those same people are going to be interested in being part of the journal.”
Soundings will once again transform its look for this year’s publication.
“There are a couple things that we will be trying new,” Stapp said. “This year I am pretty sure we are going to experiment with dispersing art and photography throughout with the poems and the short stories. So that could be a cool dynamic instead of just having photography in the back.”
The process of changing and updating the design of the journal has been a process that has been a culmination of ideas over the years.
“Every year we just seem to think that we bounce off of the year before of the great idea of whoever the art director was,” Briley said. “Sometimes I think we will never be able to reach this level again because (the art director) is leaving, and then that has inspired the next person who comes in with their own ideas, which helps us to reach the next higher step.”
The journal will also be implementing some new judging styles and placements for the four categories that Soundings includes.
“Typically in the past we have just had a first, second and third place for art, and a first, second and third place for literature, but this year we are going to have four categories: poetry, prose, photography and visual art,” Stapp said. “This year we will be a little more specific.”
Both Stapp and Briley would like to remind students that Soundings is open for all students to make submissions and is not limited to the English department.
“In the past, people have considered Soundings to be just for English department students or just people who are graphic design, but we want to encourage everybody who has any interest in writing, even if it’s not great writing, or poetry,” Stapp said. “We had people from the engineering department last year who won prizes for poems.”
Briley says that not all submissions can be accepted for two reasons.
“Either we had more then we could use, because we can only print so many pages, and sometimes we really are inundated with a flood of really good material,” Briley said. “Or, it may not have been appropriate material for what we were doing at the time; it doesn’t mean it was bad, or there was something wrong with it, just that for what we were looking for to go together as a theme for the publication it just didn’t fit.”
Soundings will be hosting a silent auction on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. to raise money for the printing and publishing of the journal. Soundings will accept submissions until Feb. 22, and everyone is invited to attend the unveiling of the 2013 Soundings journal on April 16 in the art gallery.