Collaborations between students and faculty often yield incredibly rewarding results; careers for students and long lasting projects for the colleges.
That is Daniel Nester’s wish for Pine Hills Review, the literary magazine of the Saint Rose M.F.A. program in creative writing and M.A. in English. Nester is editor in chief and a co-creator of the online magazine that has been publishing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry since July 2, and celebrated its launch earlier this month at the Massry Center for the Arts.
“One trait of a good, successful M.F.A. program is having a literary magazine or press associated with it,” says Nester, an associate professor of English and one of five core faculty members of the two-year-old program.
Though created and housed at Saint Rose, and bearing the name of the College’s neighborhood, the publication stands on its own and draws submissions from across the country.
The magazine’s growing archive reflects diverse offerings. In “My Lands are Where My Dead Lie Buried,” poet William Stratton describes the physical and psychic isolation of the South Dakota landscape. With “Punchy The Clown Came to Visit,” fiction writer Allie Marini Batts details the misadventures of a birthday party balloon sculptor. With “A Medley of Extermporanea,” Tobias Seamon recounts the sordid behavior of various Romanian royals and the catastrophic results.
Publishing online also offers the ability to get the word out to a widespread audience in order to both draw submissions and readers. So far the strategy has worked. “Readership is now in the thousands from all over the world, on everything from computer to iPhones,” Nester points out.
Another “no-brainer” was giving students a leading role in the publication. Besides Nester, Thomas Santelli, an associate professor of photography, is the only non student on the 10-member staff. Eight editors study in the rigorous M.F.A. program: Sarah Sherman, Jennifer Austin, Juliet Barney, Samson Dikeman, Jacqueline Kirkpatrick, Josh Sheridan, Kimberly Daigle and Carol Jewell. Undergraduates and more graduate students will soon join the board, to vet submissions, organizae the schedule and take part in layout – involvement that is a key part of building credentials in the world of writing.
Graduate graphic design students Lesia Gribbin and Kim Szkudlarek designed the logo and Bryan Burns, web programmer for the College, assisted in programming for the magazine.
While giving students the opportunity for growth, the M.F.A. program is using Pine Hills Review to expand the College’s profile as a literary community. Nester hopes the publication’s work will be anthologized in a “Best of” compilations and he can also envision creating a standalone collection gleaned from its virtual pages.
Nester has more basic goals, including marketing Pine Hills Review t-shirts and other “merch,” and to have an office on campus, windows-optional. “In fact,” he notes. “The darker the better.”