Some may be disappointed when they discover the Upper Mississippi Harvest is not a farmer’s almanac. This is an occurring confusion with the SCSU English Department’s annual magazine that includes literary submissions, all from students. This free magazine has been produced for over 30 years, with genres ranging from fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, and media.
The Harvest is a student organization and a on-credit class that meets once a week both semesters. Producing the harvest magazine is a multi-step process for the group.
“It’s a lot of work but it’s enjoyable,” said Cassidy Swanson, one of the head editors of the magazine. The class accepts submissions for the magazine in the fall, and during the rest of the fall semester and during winter break, the students of the organization will read and judge the submissions for whatever genre group they are in. In the spring semester the class chooses what works will be put in the magazine.
This year the group received around 250 submissions, including almost 110 poems, which fellow Head Editor Chelsea Christman said is the most poetry submissions they’ve ever received. The group also received two graphic novel submissions for their media section, which typically includes photos and drawings. These submissions posed a new situation for the editors.
“Are we going to judge the storyline or the pictures more?” Swanson said.
The work doesn’t stop at just choosing which submissions to publish, though. Swanson and Christman, and the rest of the class, decide all the design components that go into making the magazine, such as the font, the book’s cover image, whether pictures will be printed in black and white or in color, among other similar aspects. A lot of the design work is collaborated between the group and their graphic designer.
The harvest organization does more than just produce its annual magazine. Author Garrison Keillor’s appearance at SCSU was orchestrated by the organization, which Christman said had a great turn out. The harvest has also had a couple of events this year with speakers of other literary magazines, including author Sheila O’Connor, who is the advisor for Hamline University’s magazine. Christman said these are fun events for people to attend and learn about the art of the written word.
“We discuss a lot as a group, we’re all very close,” Christman and Swanson said. “People are so willing to help, we’re such a phenomenal group,” Christman said.
“It doesn’t feel like work, it’s a fun activity,” Swanson said about the harvest. The group does a lot of community outreach, including doing fundraisers for the magazine at Buffalo Wild Wings, and volunteering at the concession stand at Husky hockey games. With fundraising dollars from this and events like Garrison Keillor they are able to do things like print some of the pictures in their magazine in color.
The Upper Mississippi Harvest release party will be at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday April 22 at Building 51 in room 219. There will be free magazines, refreshments and students from the theatre department will also perform readings of work published in the magazine.