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Jodi Lundgren

Jodi Lundgren beams with pride when she holds up the inaugural issue of Beside the Point—an exciting new literary journal that she jointly developed with 23 students in her Creative Writing 159 editing and publishing class. “This journal is unique because it combines art and illustration with all kinds of literary fiction,” she says. “It’s also created by students who receive course credit for their work.”

A previous iteration of Beside the Point existed at Camosun several years ago, but Lundgren and her student team reimagined and reinvigorated it during spring 2017 with an emphasis on providing space for non-traditional forms of writing.

“We decided that we were going to have a new model and focus on pushing the boundaries of what’s acceptable, sort of beside the point, in the margins,” she says. “We wanted to include things that normally wouldn’t make it into a traditional literary journal including genre fiction – fantasy, science fiction, thrillers as well as comics and illustrations. Traditional literary journals rarely even allow submissions in those genres at all.”

Her students were energized by this approach and took up the challenge of producing a new print product with enthusiasm. “I was actually quite surprised how much my students embraced the print version because you think they are living entirely in the digital age” she says. “But the comics students especially who are into drawing and the printed page, chose this larger, magazine format and their art work shows up really nicely.”

Beside the Point launched at the end of April 2017 with a gala party at Lansdowne’s Wilna Thomas Cultural Centre. “It was very well received and well attended by Camosun administration including our President and Vice Presidents and Dean of Arts and Science,” says Lundgren. “The launch itself was a treat for the students. Two students who had extremely good public speaking skills emceed the event and it was all completely organized by the students. We sold many copies of the journal that night.”

Printed copies of the journal are available for sale at the Lansdowne bookstore for $10 each and proceeds are used to cover production costs which were done completely in-house at the Camosun print shop. “Our students toured the printing facility so they learned about the whole process of putting together and publishing a journal,” says Lundgren. “I had a student tell me that this was the only class where they could put such great work experience on their resume.”

During the summer, Lundgren invested much of her faculty scheduled development time into digitization, converting the printed product into a user friendly, interactive and functional digital version that would translate important aesthetic qualities from the printed page into the online realm. When planning took place for the journal’s first edition, her students wanted to embrace the principle of open access and open submission.

“We worked with the University of Victoria Library who gave us access to a free, open source platform,” she notes. “What’s great is that it allows for managing the journal process from submission to the final version as well as archiving and worldwide access. You can easily flip through the pages, just like in the printed version and it looks beautiful.”

The journal itself embraced the theme of community and writers and artists were invited to submit in the following categories: creative non-fiction and poetry, graphic narrative, speculative fiction, and literary fiction.

Although the majority of accepted submissions were from Camosun students, the editorial team received submissions from established writers across Canada and from as far away as Australia. “We had quite a geographical range,” says Lundgren. “And the students were excited that we could include work by the widely published Australian poet John Grey which added to the richness of the first issue.”

Lundgren expects to open the call for submission for the next edition of the journal in the coming weeks. She sees many opportunities for the journal to continue to grow and evolve.

“What's truly distinctive about this journalis that accepted authors have the chance to be paired up with an illustrator who interprets their work,” she says. ”It's exciting for writers to see their work take on a visual dimension, and it's rewarding for the Comics and Graphic Novels students to have an additional avenue for their drawing talents. The next edition is going to do all these things even more.”


Ivan Watson
Communications & Marketing Strategist, Camosun College

Last updated: September 20, 2017 10:31 am

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