‘Touchstone’ features student work, release party held in new venue

By Jordyn McGinnity

Lumen Reporter

Volume 76 of the Viterbo Uni­versity literary and arts magazine Touchstone was released Wednes­day, April 11 in a party held in the library’s Robers Conference Room from 6 to 8 p.m., which was attend­ed by approximately 40 people.

Touchstone features poetry, prose, and artwork created by students. The release party allowed visitors to view the featured artwork on display as well as hear some of the authors read the work they had pub­lished in this year’s edition and pick up their own free copy of the maga­zine.

Visiting assistant professor of Eng­lish Rebecca Lehmann read several of her own poems from her recently published book, Between the Crack­ups, as a guest speaker.

“I feel that the library was a good choice for a student-based publica­tion location,” said Derek Freese, a senior studio arts major from Sauk Rapids, Minn. and the co-editor for the arts section of Touchstone. “It allows students easy access. The li­brary was glad to have us and I hope to continue this tradition and keep students excited.”

Raisa Benusa, a senior English ma­jor from Arcadia, Wis., is the literary editor of Touchstone this year.

“The Touchstone magazine fea­tures Viterbo students’ work,” Be­nusa said. “My responsibilities as literary editor are collecting the liter­ary works that students submit and, with the help of my literary staff, se­lecting which poems and short sto­ries will be published.”

Freese shares his work as co-editor with Amy Braaksma, who is also the web designer. He is part of a four-person team including a graphic designer and the advisor for the arts section of Touchstone that together chooses the showcased art.

“We put up posters around cam­pus asking for Touchstone submis­sions and have a drop-off location for students to submit their art,” Freese said about the submission and selection process. “We then look to see if the art is a strong piece that holds up to the standards of Touch­stone to decide if it makes it into the magazine.”

Freese said that another thing the arts section of Touchstone works for is to create a cohesive body of work so that the pieces go together.

“Traditionally the students weren’t notified ahead of time that their work would be included in Touch­stone and they would have to come to the release party to find out, but this year since the exhibition was in the library we notified them so that they could frame their work and have them ready for the exhibition,” Freese said.

The literary selection process also has several parts and considerations.

“First, students send me the works that they want published and I put them on a document and take off the author’s names so that the works are anonymous before I or my staff read them,” Benusa said.

“After that, I send all the pieces to my literary editors and together we read them, rate them, go over the positives and negatives of each piece, and decide which works will be published,” Benusa said.

Benusa told Lumen that the last step in the literary selection process is finding out how many pages are being allotted to the literary sec­tion of Touchstone, and if any fur­ther cuts need to be made to meet the page limit. The authors are then notified if their works will be pub­lished or not.

Unlike the arts section of Touch­stone, the literary editors do not spe­cifically focus on theme or cohesion when making their selections.

“The literary editors get to­gether to talk about the works, but we don’t pick based on having a theme like friendship or love,” Be­nusa said. “We pick based on how we feel about the works. Generally, the works published have an over­all tone that seems similar, but we don’t have a theme in mind when we make our selections. If we did, we would only ask for submissions from the chosen theme for that year.”

“A lot of people think that we only receive and publish English majors’ works,” Benusa said. “I want every­one to know that we receive works from all disciplines. We will accept and publish work from anyone, as long as it makes it through the selec­tion process.”

The arts section of Touchstone also accepts a wide range of submis­sions, including paintings, pottery, sculptures, and digital works.

This year, 11 different stu­dent authors were published by the literary section of Touchstone, and 25 students had their artwork fea­tured in the magazine.

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