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Student literary journal invites alumni submissions

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College’s literary journal is back, with a new format and a broader scope.

Lines was Bethel’s creative writing journal published in print format until 2005, when it was discontinued due to budgetary concerns. Two current students, Nicole Eitzen, junior from Xalapa, Mexico, and Anthony Gonzalez, senior from Newton, are the force behind BClines, the rebirth and re-visioning of Lines during the 2011-12 school year in online format.

Lines featured mostly poetry, short stories and other creative writing and occasionally photos or other visual art (black & white only). But because BClines is online, it can more easily accept visual art and can reproduce it in color, as well as videos and other digital submissions. While Lines limited its authors to students, BClines accepts entries from Bethel faculty, staff and alumni as well.

Last school year, Gonzalez, a photographer for Bethel's student newspaper, The Collegian, was taking photos in the Administration Building one evening after dark when he found copies of the last issue of Lines (from 2005) in a bookcase of old books.

He told Eitzen about this. Eventually, the two of them went to Ami Regier, professor of literary studies, who was the last editor of Lines.

“She suggested it should be an internship,” Eitzen says. “One reason it hadn’t worked [as well] in the past was that she had to do all the editing.”

Making BClines into an internship means Eitzen and Gonzalez get credit for their work on the journal. It also helps them meet Bethel's Common Ground (general education) requirement of a practical application piece for all majors.

Eitzen’s and Gonzalez’s interest in restarting the literary journal stemmed from a perception that “creative writing on campus hasn’t really been explored [in recent years],” Eitzen says. “There are a lot of people who write poetry on the side but there wasn’t a place to express it [publicly].”

She became especially aware of this, she says, because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day poetry contest that started in 2011. She was surprised at the number of entries, she says

“We first wanted to restart as another print journal,” Gonzalez says. However, though Bethel’s Department of Literary Studies has been able to provide BClines with a small budget, it wasn’t nearly enough to cover printing costs.

More discussion with Ami Regier and Nathan Bartel, assistant professor of literary studies, convinced the students to go with an online journal – to expand media possibilities as well as open the call for submissions to a potentially wider pool.

“We’re especially interested in making alumni aware of BClines and letting them know they can submit things to it,” Eitzen says. Faculty and staff submissions are welcome, too.

By the end of July, BClines had received around 51 submissions from 33 people (mostly students, although there were a handful of faculty and community/alumni submissions as well) in six different categories: digital media; drawings, painting and prints; fiction; personal essays; photography; and poetry. Web stats showed there had been 8,200 views from 45 different countries.

BClines sponsored a contest with $25 prizes for the best “late submission” (after May 11) and the most popular submission, based on web hits. Terra Scott, sophomore from Newton, won the former, with a poetry entry. Audra Miller, senior from Hesston, claimed the latter – her entries were in a variety of visual media.

The web address for BClines is http://bclines.bethelks.edu. BClines also has a Facebook page.

Student response to BClines has been generally positive. “Other literary studies students have told us they’re glad there's a venue for publication,” Eitzen says.

Gonzalez adds, “Most people didn't know there was a literary journal on campus. Many thought it was just for creative writing.”

That was part of the reason behind sponsoring the contest – to raise awareness and get more submissions, which the students hope additional publicity will do, as well.

“There is a lot of space on the site,” Eitzen says. “There are archives, and we have a ‘copyright tool’ [Copyscape] that will help us find out if there are illegal copies made of any submissions.”

There might still be occasional print versions of BClines, she adds – perhaps at the end of a school year or on request.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2011-12 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2011-12. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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