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.
This coming Wednesday, The Swarthmore Literary Review will be issuing its first ever print magazine. The issue will feature work Meredith Root-Bernstein, whose work appeared in the March 9, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, as well as Swat students Rebekah Judson ’12 and Aakash Suchak ’11. The cover art is by Savannah College of Art and Design sophomore Nicholas diFeliciantonio.
The Swarthmore Literary Review received 500 submissions for the Spring 2009 issue, 27 of which were published. “Picking poems is only one part of creating this magazine,” diFeliciantonia explained, “a great deal of energy goes into development, fundraising, and publicity, those tasks that are fundamental to the success of any new magazine.” The addition of new Swat students to the current editorial board is being considered for later this semester.
The magazine was first released in 2008 on the web. Its mission states that the review seeks to “create a student directed venue for the work of talented Swarthmore students and at-large writers.” It also seeks to engage the international community, “humbly hoping to foster a love of the arts on our own campus and abroad.” Justin diFeliciantonio,’10 and Rahul Da Silva, ’08, founded the Swarthmore Literary Review in late 2008.
They began their project by sending out calls for submissions to literary magazines, creative writing professors, and university secretaries. “I was looking to publish what I look for when reading books, poetry that you want to read over and over. Something you carry in your head,” said Da Silva, who has just finished his Fulbright study in Ireland, and is currently finishing his creative writing portfolio in New York City. He hopes to publish a book of poetry.
“Our first attempts to connect with literary communities outside Swarthmore were pretty haphazard,” diFeliciantonio said, in an email. The founders got a mixed response. Some, like Yusef Komunyakaa, NYU poet, asked them not to contact him again. In the next few weeks, however, the pair received nearly 250 submissions. Now, the SLR network includes alumni, undergraduate and graduate students, professors, faculty members and independent poets from around the U.S. and the world.
In the 2008 issue, Swarthmore Literary Magazine published a Pushcart prize nominee from Florida as well as Swarthmore student poets Nat Sufrin, ’11 and Nora Nussbaum, ’10. Swarthmore Literary Review struggled to get funding from Student Council in 2008. Their charter was rejected because the SLR was not solely focused on students. In their 2009 application the SLR emphasized the fact that funding would only be used for copy costs for the Swarthmore community. “We also emphasized that this magazine is a great opportunity not only increase exposure of Swarthmore poets, but to allow Swarthmore students the opportunity to edit what we hope will someday be a nationally distributed magazine,” diFeliciantonio said.
They have so far received provisional approval and only limited funding. The 2009 issue was funded by a one-time grant from the President’s Office. The spring 2010 issue will be funded by the SBC, academic departments on campus, and outside sources, such as money from alumni in return for distribution of the magazine. The SLR recently cosponsored Rita Dove’s September 22 reading, with diFeliciantonio introducing the Poet Laureate. “It’s taken a great deal of planning and effort to bring us to the possibility of a release party,” said diFeliciantonio, who added he and the rest of the editorial board were pleased with the development of the SLR so far.
The Swarthmore Literary Review is hosting the release party for their Spring 2009 issue in the McCabe Library Reading Room this Wednesday, at 4:30 pm. Student poets featured in the magazine will read from their work, and a reception will follow. All students and faculty are welcome, as well as Philadelphia-Delaware County area poetry enthusiasts.