International Poetry Magazine Created at Swarthmore; Charter Denied

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The Swarthmore Literary Review is a newly created annual poetry magazine, and is one of 22 publications at Swarthmore. The magazine, however, is also Swarthmore’s only international publication and accepts submissions from poets around the world. While this makes the Review unique, it contributed to the Charter Committee’s decision to reject the Review’s charter application. Charters are required to receive funding from the Student Budget Committee.

Swarthmore Literary Review was created to parallel poetry journals at other educational institutions, such as the Harvard, Yale and Kenyon Review. The magazine will be based in Swarthmore but will contain works from both within the college and outside work, and will be distributed on campus. Rahul D’Silva ’08 wanted to create similar journals that found a broader scope. “We’re so isolated from the writing community,” said D’Silva. “The magazine is the first one to look outside the community and is a landmark publication for Swarthmore.” D’Silva also hopes the Review will establish Swarthmore as rich literary centre.

D’Silva, who is an English major with creative writing concentration, found two students in his poetry workshop to help him co-organize the magazine, Justin DiFeliciantoni ’10 and Johanna Bond ’10. Both shared similar sentiments about creating a venue for international artistic dialogue. “We want to connect Swarthmore students with outsiders…that’s the point of the arts,” said Bond. DiFeliciantoni also hopes the review will “improve the name of Swarthmore to increase its prestige.”

The group garnered the support of two faculty members from the English Literature department, Department Chair Peter Schmidt and poetry professor Nat Anderson, and Vice President Maurice Eldridge. “The proposal is a good one and an interesting one,” said Eldridge. “Nat Anderson and Peter Schmidt [also] felt it was a worthwhile venture.”

The editors advertised to the international poetry community by emailing faculty at creative writing programs and editors of literary magazines at other universities and colleges. Within a few weeks, they had received over 200 submissions, of which fifty will be selected for the first issue. Contributor Rhae Lynn Barnes was an editor of international publication Berkeley Poetry Review at University of Berkeley. “I respect anyone who is trying to promote arts,” she said. “The arts are crucial. As a premier college like Swat, it should be available to all students. [The magazine] provides a new arena for [students] to present their work to new audiences.”

In order to root the magazine at Swarthmore while opening it up, the editors will select a balanced mix of poems written members Swarthmore community and outside writers. The only criteria will be the quality of the poems, which the editors will judge based on using their experiences. “We have enough experience with poetry to be able to look at and evaluate poetry,” said D’Silva. “We’re committed to publishing at least 5% of the work of Swarthmore students. But if there are poems by Swarthmore students that are better than outside work, then we won’t hesitate to publish more of them.”

Although the first-issue will be web-based, subsequent issues will be print-based. The editors sought to become a chartered group in order to cover their annual printing costs. However, they were rejected by the committee.

“There is no debate on the charter committee that it is a great idea,” said Student Council President Peter Gardner ’08. “It’s not about qualifications, but a matter of the best way to get it published.” The issue is using money front the student activities fee to fund a project that does not primarily focus on Swarthmore students. “It is not in our mandate to help support international poetry,” said Gardner. Another concern was that the Review was too similar to Small Craft Warnings in the aspects that were relevant to Swarthmore.

Eldridge’s response was, “the reaction to the charter is rather narrow. I don’t see [the publication] as not serving Swat students and alumni. It enriches students as readers and writers.”

Of the thirteen charter requests received this year, the Swarthmore Literary Review was the only one that was denied. The Review requested $3000 in funds. Comparatively, newly chartered magazines The Night Café requested an annual budget for $24,000 and Punc/tum!! requested $12,000. Both will be funded although not the full amount.

Underlying the committee’s decision on the Review is the number of many literary magazines competing for SBC’s funds in a year when the budget is considerably constricted, according to Gardner. Publications comprise the largest piece of SBC’s budget, 22%, with the Halcyon and The Phoenix costing the most. Student Council is currently speaking with Alumni Relations and Development to discuss sharing the budgetary burden of Halcyon. Similarly, Gardner referred the Review to find alternative sources of funding, such as Alumni Council and the President’s office.

According to D’Silva, Alumni Council, Admissions and the President’s office are all in support of the venture as a marketing tool to promote the college. However, “even if we would get financial support from the President’s office or the academic departments, this would be minimal and not sustainable in the long-term which is why we want to become a chartered group,” said D’Silva. Compared to “Small Craft Warnings, which is having trouble with submissions and the other two publications which are not giving a new audience, we deserved to be chartered and funded.”

Despite the funding issues, the magazine will still appear in web-form in May and D’Silva believes the magazines will continue to expand into an institutional part of Swarthmore. “Although the magazine is starting as poetry,” said D’Silva, “we envision it into expanding into translations, fictions and essays, and of being Swarthmore’s full-fledged literary magazine.”

Correction: Punc/tum!!! and The Night Cafe have not been approved by the Charter Committee as is reported in this article. More information will be forthcoming shortly.


  1. Dear Daily Gazette,

    As a writer of the Night Cafe and a concerned member of the Swarthmore society, I would like to point out the lack of credibility this article with regard to the status of the Night Cafe and other magazines. The Night Cafe (and to the best of my knowledge, Punc/Tum!!) has not been chartered. We have also long since reduced our request for an annual budget from $24000 down to $12000 This charter is still up for consideration. It would be wonderful to read the Daily Gazette and get factual information. Please do your journalistic homework next time.

  2. I find it very sad and against everything Swarthmore stands for to deny students with great ideas to use their academic pursuits to more fully engage in the world. Hopefully the students who made this poor decision will eventually grow up. To the students embarking on this and other great projects…march on! Years later, other Swat students will be begging you for interviews, internships and endowment gifts.

  3. Yes, because with the powers of idealism and good intentions, SBC can conjure up funding for all three new high-cost publications initiatives! (Nevermind the needs of any other groups, or for that matter any of the, what, 5+ other groups that were chartered prior to these three publications charter submittals.) Yeah, those mean bureaucrats sure do need to “grow up” …

    Thanks for the input, Maurice (maybe if you’d get rid of the yearbook cash-cow SBC might have the money)– does WNR get funding from SBC? I don’t remember them being in the budget this year. If the poetry journal can become a propaganda effort of anything near the scale of WNR, why can’t they get whatever funding WNR taps into? (Or is that through the Lang Center?)

  4. WNR is not funded by SBC. According to their website, they get money from Project Pericles ( and “Swarthmore College”, which I believe is the President’s Office in this case. There have been some vague rumblings about the college wanting SBC to get involved but that seems like unlikely to happen this year given the budget crunch.

    Also, according to last week’s Phoenix article (, the Night Cafe was still requesting $24,000.

  5. I wonder if the $24,000 is what someone from SBC or StuCo is quoting to all of these reporters? That may be a misconception based on what they initially proposed to SBC?

  6. My understanding is that the $24,000 is for what the magazine wants and is necessary to publish twice a semester. The $12,000 is what SBC/Charter Committee might reasonably agree to, and is for a smaller publication cycle.

    I’ve attended StuCo meetings for the Gazette, and Stu Co members have repeatedly mentioned that The Night Cafe member presenting the budget to the Charter Committee was reluctant to decrease the sum we has asking for.

  7. ahem…
    the student presenting the budget to the charter committee requested $12,000 to publish twice a semester at the most recent charter committee meeting. It is this proposal that is under review. If someone had bothered to ask Paul Apollo, or Eli Epstein-Deustch, I’m sure they would have both offered the clearest and most up to date information instead of the at-best-speculative estimations by various members of the Daily Gazette.
    It’s concerning to me that readers should have to be continually correcting the Gazette on these matters. It shouldn’t be that hard to fact check.

  8. What I don’t understand is how there are TWENTY-TWO publications.

    Surely some of these are redundant and could be eliminated in order to make room in the budget for these new ideas?

  9. “s”: You should check our report on the Student Council meeting several weeks ago here. At least at that point, the Night Cafe was sticking by its $24,000-demand.

    Your statement that readers are “continually correcting the Gazette on these matters,” makes me a bit concerned. Are there other places we’ve reported incorrect information on the publications?

  10. At least according to Paul Apollo in last week’s Phoenix article, the figure was $24,000. I’m going to give the Gazette the benefit of the doubt on this one.

  11. Specifically the quote, “if they are chartered, it will not be for $24,000” seems to suggest that he’s quoting off of their initial request?

    (It could also be a case of StuCo trying to frame it in terms that cost the most possible $$$ to overemphasize the very real [but managable] budget problems that SBC is facing.)

  12. Also the idea that a Gazette member could accidently “speculate” the at-one-time-correct $24,000 figure is a little silly.

  13. I’m not going to get in to factual specifics, as I have already reported them to the Gazette and I imagine there will be a short follow up article shortly. For now, it is sufficient to say that there were many importantly incorrect aspects of this article. I would just like to point out that, as the chair of the chartering committee, I have seen every debate that has gone in to every charter. We have not made any decisions lightly, to be sure. In the case of the Swarthmore Review, we did not feel as though it would be proper to get in to a project that was outside the scope of the activity fund when there were so many other groups, involving a lot more of the student body, vying for funding. At other schools, literary review magazines like this are not paid for out of their school’s activity fees. If there are other members of this community that feel that this magazine should be paid for, then you are in agreement with the charter committee, but the activity fee is certainly not the place to look for such funding.

  14. SBC = misers,
    I quote Miles:
    “My understanding is that the $24,000 is for what the magazine wants and is necessary to publish twice a semester. The $12,000 is what SBC/Charter Committee might reasonably agree to, and is for a smaller publication cycle.”

    this is not accidental speculation, nor did I call it accidental speculation. I was pointing out that, on limited and outdated information, incorrect information on multiple accounts about the charter was being spread by the daily gazette, which is what I found concerning.

  15. S–please point out where we have multiple cases of incorrect information so we can issue a correction. I can’t find them.

    The first request the Night Cafe asked for was $24,000 and these was a long period during which this number did not change. I’m glad the number has moved down, because, from debate at Student Council meetings, it was fairly clear the Charter Committee was not going to accept a new club with a $24,000 budget (which would be higher than The Phoenix, for example).

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