Success Story

Students collaborate to create award-winning literary and arts journal

By Lauren Daly '11

The Aonian literary and visual arts magazine is one of many creative outlets for Hendrix students. Student editors and staff have created an award-winning publication, including a first-place finish in the 2012 Southern Literary Festival Student Writing Contest. The magazine won second place in 2011, and students are hopeful for a first-place prize again this year.

Growing interest in the magazine has increased staff applications and submissions, more recently in the areas of photography and visual arts after the addition of woodcutting and printing courses taught by art professor Melissa Gill in 2009.

The audience for the magazine's annual release and reading has also increased to a point where staff members are looking to move the reception to a larger space.

The magazine's biggest success has been the campus's increased attention for the arts on campus, according to Hanna Al-Jibouri '12, last year's editor-in-chief.

The Aonian's success is due, in part, to the support from the English and art faculty and the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation "whose support of the creative writing program has allowed so many of our students to meet with writers, attend workshops, and create a lively and engaged community of writers," said creative writing professor Dr. Tyrone Jaeger, the magazine's faculty advisor.

"Programs such as Word Garden, the student reading series, and the on-campus support work in tandem to enhance and improve the creation of our literary magazine," he added.

The student-run organization assembles each year to create their original publication, which is funded by the Student Senate. The staff mulls over the submissions in the categories of prose, literary hybrids, photography, visual arts, and poetry to choose their semi-finalists. Once they have been chosen, the submissions are sent to professional judges who choose first-, second-, and third-place winners. The staff compiles the magazine, designing a bound book. On Honors Day, they award prizes, funded by Hendrix-Murphy, to the winners, reveal their creation, and distribute the magazine to the Hendrix community at a reading reception.

The first reading reception occurred in 1996 when editor-in-chief Kristen Hopkins Albertson '96 decided to have a party to reveal the publication. Since then, the reception has been funded by the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language.

Also that year, the staff voted to change the magazine's name from the Potpourri, its title since the 1960s, to the Aonian.

Being a peer-run publication, the magazine is successful because the editor-in-chief and faculty sponsor help to guide and support the staff. In 2009, when Joseph Hayden '10 was editor, the college's creative writing program was growing rapidly, and student submissions were changing. Because of this, Haydn and faculty sponsor Tyrone Jaeger, amended the submission categories. They combined the former categories of fiction and non-fiction into the current prose category and added the literary hybrids category.

In 2010, editor-in-chief Colleen Mayo '11 began offering literary and art workshops to prepare the Aonian staff for viewing, reading, and critiquing student submissions. The workshops help the staff grow more cohesive and enable them to work more as a team.

This year's workshops will be led by professors Dr. Tyrone Jaeger (fiction), Hope Coulter (poetry), Dr. Marianne Tettlebaum (aesthetics), Melissa Gill (visual arts), and Maxine Payne (photography).

To increase the magazine's credibility and strength, the editors have sought more seasoned and experienced staff members as well as a balance between visual arts and creative writing members. These changes have not only allowed for submissions to receive more helpful and educated critiques but also changed the publication's feel from strictly narrative to a balance between the different artistic domains.

While experienced writers and artists are critical to the creation of a successful magazine, the more practiced students submit a vast majority of the publication's pieces. Because of this monopoly, Haydn and his staff limited the number of pieces a person may submit to five per category.

This year's editor-in-chief Julia Lee McGill '14 and associate editor Alli Dillard '14 are busy working to create this year's Aonian, which will be released on Honors Day, April 25, 2013, at the Aonian/Murphy Programs Literary Contest Winners' Reception and Reading in the Murphy Seminar Room.

Lauren Daly '11 is a Presidential Fellow for the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language.