November 2012 Archives

Thoughts from a Poetry Editor

By Aaron Bristow, Poetry Editor, Ivory Tower

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and with it the brief respite from the onslaught of end-of-semester homework, which is just as much a yearly tradition as the holiday season itself. At the end of November, we also find ourselves bidding farewell to autumnal bliss and battening down the hatches in preparation for winter. In combination, the daunting homework load and impending winter make me feel like an amateur soapbox derby driver, running around my flimsy car at the top of a winding hill, making frazzled, last minute adjustments to the wheels, chassis, and steering mechanism, hoping they won't all fly off on the first turn at uncontrolled, high speeds. Where are the breaks? You don't need them until you get to the bottom, and finals are still three sleepless weeks away.

Thankfully, at Ivory Tower, our pushcart is a finely tuned machine, partially because we have all put in hard work, and also because we have gotten the opportunity to talk to professionals in the business. The Twin Cities has a radiant and active publishing scene, and some of its active participants have visited our class, depositing rich and invaluable bits of information to ensure that our wheels stay on. Whole Beast Rag andHazel and Wren visited the Ivory Tower earlier in the semester and just last Monday, Jamie Millard and Meghan Murphy visited from the intelligent and graphically brilliant literary magazine Paper Darts.

After working on the 2009 issue of Ivory Tower, graduating, and spending countless hours and dollars in coffee shops, Jamie and Meghan started Paper Darts. The first edition of the magazine was hand sewn; however, subsequent editions have been mechanically produced. They told us about their experience creating the perfect relationship between graphics and text, printing in black and white, and graciously gave us a complimentary copy of Paper Darts Volume 4 to generate design ideas. Their website and printed material is a testament to their artistic and editorial skill. Check them out at

The timing of Paper Darts' visit was impeccable as we begin designing the magazine and selecting the literature and visual art for the magazine. Remember to submit any last minute materials at here.

National Novel Writing Month

By John Moen, Fiction Editor, Ivory Tower

It's always an interesting experience when I catch a group of writers doing what they do best: huddled around a too-small table with their faces so close to their monitors that they can almost smudge the glass with their noses, their eyes squinting at the words on the screen, trying to figure out the best way to write that beautiful love scene or that particularly gruesome murder. Yes, a group of writers is certainly a sight to behold, and we at Ivory Tower love and appreciate them for what they do. November is the month of changing leaves, turkey, and family football games, but it is also an important month for writers.

National Novel Writing Month spans all of chilly November, and, as someone who has participated in previous years, I've observed that it brings out the best in the writers of our university. This event draws together the entire undergraduate community: it includes English majors, of course, but also students from many other disciplines. Some of the best writers I know are Computer Science, Biochemistry, Physics, and Math majors. Ivory Tower wants to hear from all students, because we know that while not everyone is crazy enough to tackle a whole novel in a month, that doesn't mean that the writing atmosphere can't inspire every one of us to create something great.

So, next time you see a group of students with fingers blissfully skittering across their keyboards, smiling as they smooth out that bit of awkward prose, take a moment to think about the ideas that you want to share. That's what it's all about. It's about you, and having your work featured in Ivory Tower. It's about your poems, your fiction, your non-fiction, and your art taking a place where everyone can admire it.
Maybe you won't write a whole novel this month. But if you pick up a pen, type at a keyboard, or move a brush across canvas, you may create something: something uniquely yours, something you can be proud of, and something you can cherish in years far beyond the time you spend here at the university. And if you submit to Ivory Tower, it may be published in a handsome journal that will serve as a record of your achievement. You can submit your work at the following website:

Twin Cities Book Fair 2012

By Etta Berkland, Co-Editor in Chief, Ivory Tower

In elementary school, one of my favorite memories of autumn was attending my school's annual book fair. Class by class, we were allowed down into the gym where, gleaming on four shelves and two table displays, there were books--hundreds of books, it seemed to me at the time - filled with words and ideas. I would wander through doe-eyed, making lists of titles to pitch to my mother later that evening. Each book had the potential to be a great story, and I loved great stories.

So imagine my excitement when I walked into the Twin Cities Book Festival on October 13 and saw over 120 exhibitors displaying everything from chapbooks to literary magazines to full-length novels. I wound my way through the crowd to the table we were sharing with dislocate (Ivory Tower's graduate counterpart), and chatted with co-editor Casey for a bit. After Casey left to check out the other exhibitors, Amy from dislocate and I took questions and passed out previous issues of our respective magazines to passersby.

It was amazing to see the humming literary world of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. We stood directly next to Conduit's funky, narrow journal, and back-to-back with Hazel & Wren advertising their open mic night. Paper Darts was just down the line flashing their brand new fourth issue. Later in the day, I stopped to look at the University of Minnesota Press' Children of the Northlights book, and Mary Jo Bang's rendition of Dante's Inferno, published by Graywolf Press. There were small publishers I'd never heard of before, like Uncivilized Books, and literary magazines I definitely want to read through in the future, like Hamline's Water~Stone Review. All the people I talked with were eager to discuss their publications, and curious to learn more about Ivory Tower. It felt great to tell them about our fantastic staff, how we're receiving many submissions, how we're applying for grants, and how we're learning InDesign.

What a wonderful opportunity. Thanks to the Ivory Tower class, I have found a new autumn tradition, the Twin Cities Book Festival, where thousands of books and journals hold the next great stories.

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