Q&A with Jessica Jenkins, the editor-in-chief of earthwords

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 12, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Daily Iowan sat down with Jessica Jenkins, the editor-in-chief of earthwords, the undergraduate literary review at the UI, which accepts submissions from all undergraduate students. The publication will celebrate the release of its 2012 issue at 7 p.m. Saturday at Prairie Lights, 15 S. Dubuque St. Admission is free.

Daily Iowan: What types of literature does earthwords publish?

Jenkins: We publish fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and plays, along with art and photography. The content of the magazine depends primarily upon the volume and quality of the submissions in each genre. For example, this year we had nearly 500 submissions and, for the first time, a considerable number of nonfiction pieces. So readers will see a larger selection of nonfiction in the upcoming issue.

DI: Why do you only publish an issue in the spring?

Jenkins: earthwords is a yearly magazine, so we publish one issue every spring semester. While publishing twice a year is still a prospect for earthword's future, the decision to publish once a year is primarily driven by work-flow issues. Because we receive such a high volume of submissions each fall, and each editor is responsible for reading and critiquing the pieces in her or his genre, we choose to spread the work across two semesters. The yearly publication allows us to release a bigger and better quality book, too.

DI: Why did you want to become involved with this student publication?

Jenkins: I am an English major and a member of the Creative Writing Track, and my interests in small presses and the literary publishing industry really drew me to earthwords. Part of the mission of the publication is to give students interested in pursuing careers in this industry the professional experience of editing and managing a publication. earthwords gave me a chance to develop professional skills relevant to my craft that I can carry into my postgraduate career.

DI: Why is the group reading at Prairie Lights? Is this the first time the publication has done something like this?

Jenkins: It's a tradition. Every year we launch the book with a reading at Prairie Lights featuring writers and writing from the publication. It is also a chance for us to begin distributing the book, which is free.

DI: Who will be the ones reading? And will they read directly from the publication or from other works as well?

Jenkins: Typically, they read directly from the publication, but we are not opposed to hearing something new from our writers. Sometimes, featured poets may bring in more than what was published so they can use their reading time wisely and give the audience a better taste of their work.

DI: Tell me a little more about the after party you are hosting after the reading at Public Space One.

Jenkins: The Artist's After Party is an experiment for the 2011-2012 earthwords staff. We decided to hold this event because we've always had a reading featuring writers, but there was never a very good platform to feature the artists and photographers. We are especially proud of our art and photo selection this year, so the Artist's After Party is a small gallery showing off artwork by those featured in the upcoming issue. We also wanted to give people the chance to mingle, meet, and chat after the reading, and we thought Public Space One would provide a relaxed environment for everyone to do so.

DI: What do you think makes *earthwords* different from other publications on campus?

Jenkins: earthwords is really the only tenured literary outlet for students on campus that is involved not only in the production of the literary journal but with the community surrounding it. I, for one, am very proud that we, as a small and very busy staff, are able to release to the community a high quality publication that showcases what we love.

— Sam Gentry

In today's issue:

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