Upon my arrival at Coe College, creative writing never took the academic spotlight. I simply assumed that it would become something to keep my mind buoyant during my introductory science days, sloshing through snowdrifts of material before I finally reached those courses that piqued my interest.
I was completely unaware of our magazine or how its reputation spilled over borders. I didn’t appreciate how close I was to a UNESCO City of Literature, located not even an hour south of my school. Little did I know how the University of Iowa was home to one of the most renowned MFA programs in the country.
Ignorance and all, I started here as a creative writing major. However, while this was demoted to a mere minor, my involvement in the writing department and its sponsored events lingers with a stronger taste than any of my experiences in the sciences. This especially includes how I stumbled into The Coe Review and its staff along with the impressive spectrum of writing faculty.
As my final poetry issue comes to a close, working with Skylor as co-editors, I finish with reinforced desires to remain immersed in this community. I often discuss this publication with a dear friend of mine, since he is currently employed as a manuscript reader at a small publishing company. He has shown surprise like a startled lamb, muttering how he wished his own university had provided an editing opportunity of this caliber. I’ve watched my father peruse the pages like he was handling precious documents, messaging me throughout the following semester to inquire about the selective process.
The Coe Review was far from an academic distraction. Not only did it morph into a beacon of pride and anchor me in the literary community, it informed my own creative and scientific writing alike. It taught lessons of objectivity, giving me the lens to read my own work like that of a stranger armed with a poetry manual and a sense of remorselessness. It taught writing, it taught revision, and it introduced me to that peculiar breed of artistic politics. I’ve learned about creative outlets where magazines and presses call for submissions. If you want to publish, put yourself into the place of an editor. Read magazines, small and independent or timeless and renowned, whether posted free online or as paper publications supported through patronage. Read for these magazines. Perhaps start your own. Overall, participate.
by Jenna Kelly, December 2016