Grassroots to take hold at magazine release party

Creative writers will get to see their work in published form tonight at the Grassroots release party.

The undergraduate literary magazine will hold a party and open mic at 7 p.m. in Shryock Auditorium.

The annual magazine is published in spring and contains work such as fiction, poetry and photography by undergraduate students. It is available at Morris Library, the Student Center and Faner Hall.

Editor-in-chief Crystal McDaniels, a senior from Mt. Carmel studying English, said she wanted to change several things about the magazine when she became editor in the fall. This year’s issue includes color photographs, a visual theme throughout the magazine and more meticulous proofreading, she said.

About 400 submissions came in the fall semester, and she and the other editors worked over Christmas break to narrow the selection to 45 pieces, she said.

Assistant editor Jessica Suchon, a junior from Ann Arbor, Mich., studying English, said they spent 30 hours in one weekend reading the submissions.

McDaniels said the process of putting together the magazine includes working with the writers and artists to prepare their work for print and designing the magazine, which all the editors help with.

“That book is just all of us,” she said.

She said an idea she kept in mind when putting together the magazine was that it’s like a time capsule of what undergraduates care about. This year, she said, there were several submissions about coming of age, which she said seems to be a popular theme.

One of those stories was  SIU alumnus Kris Kimball’s “Trespassers.”

Kimball, who graduated from SIU in 2011, said this is the second time he’s had work published in Grassroots, and it’s always exciting to get the recognition of having it included.

He was happy that the editors chose “Trespassers,” he said, though it was far from the only piece he submitted this year.

“I just sent out a Hail Mary,” he said.

Kimball said he is coming back to Carbondale for the party and said open mics are fun because they give the chance to preview new material to friends.

Suchon said the creative writing community on campus is close-knit, and a lot of writers form friendships in writing workshops that carry over to Grassroots and readings.

Suchon said she will read a few poems from a poetry series she wrote about two characters dealing with domestic abuse.

She said she’s been training to take McDaniel’s place as editor-in-chief next fall, and she has plans for both the magazine and readings.

She said she wants to get other departments outside of English more involved and would like to see more photography and screenplays in the magazine. As for the readings, she said she’s considering doing some student short film screenings.

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