Grub Street’s 66 years of lit

Grub Street’s 2017 editor Olivia Godwin makes an introductory speech at the launch party on Thursday.

By: Kristin Helf, Associate Arts & Life Editor

Towson’s literary and arts magazine Grub Street celebrated the arrival of its 66th issue on Thursday with a launch party where speakers reflected on the permeating themes of this year’s magazine–nostalgia and failure.

The magazine itself is hardly a failure, with 188 pages of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and visual art, but after two semesters of collecting and reviewing submissions, editors realized a common thread was weaving many of the pieces together.

In Grub Street editor and senior English major Olivia Godwin’s introductory editor’s note, and in her speech on Thursday night, she spoke on the enlightenment that failure can bring and the importance of, when creating a literary magazine, working as a team.

While piecing together a magazine doesn’t require the speed, strength, or coordination of team sports, Godwin said, its very nature is similar to a team sport.

“In hindsight, I wasn’t prepared to play a team sport,” Godwin said. “I was prepared to play a game of solitaire—responsibility on me, decisions on me, success on me, failure on me. I quickly learned this wasn’t a game of solitaire…While its leaders play an important role in keeping those moving parts moving smoothly, it is the cooperation of the entire staff that makes the journal the successful creation it becomes.”

Each section of the journal has an editor who oversees their classmates as they read and review submissions that ultimately make up the journal’s content.

Junior English major Emely Rodriguez relayed the story of how she came to take on the responsibility as editor of the poetry section.

“At first I thought, ‘maybe you should take a step back, don’t overextend yourself,’” Rodriguez said. “And it wasn’t until [faculty advisor Michael Downs] got on his knees the second day of class begging for more people to apply that I thought, ‘that’s a sign. Maybe, just maybe—I’m already over-involved, I might as well add another thing.’ So I did.”

Rodriguez said that, because of the passion and strong opinions of the members on her team, accepting poetry submissions was “always a battle.”

“But it turns out, our genre happened to pick out a lot of pieces that were nostalgic,” she said. “And it turned out we weren’t the only genre that had that—so, unknowingly, Grub Street found a mood.”

The launch party included readings by students and alumni whose works were published in the fiction, nonfiction and poetry sections of the journal. Towson alumnus Michael Tager, who read from his fiction piece “El Gordo,” reflected on a certain nostalgia for sneaking into frat parties before he even attended Towson, where he would make up a name in the hopes of being allowed inside.

“It means a lot to be in Grub Street,” said Tager, who has been published in the journal previously and whose mother and wife also attended Towson.

Managing editor and senior English major Mallorie Beckner said she didn’t know of Grub Street’s existence until she asked Downs about how she could get involved in the publishing industry post-graduation. He suggested she first join Grub Street, and the experience that followed solidified Beckner’s aspirations of working in publishing.

“I know I can speak for all of us when I say it’s a very special part of Towson,” Beckner said. “Grub Street will be my favorite memory from college.”

Grub Street is a free journal and can be found on racks in buildings across campus.

“If anyone had asked me on the first day what the journal would look like, I would have never said, ‘this,’” Godwin said as she held up a copy of the journal. “And that’s perfect. It means we succeeded, that this journal is an amalgam produced and influenced by the entire staff and all of the contributors. No matter how large or small of a role each played.”

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