The COVID-19 pandemic has made the past school year different in a lot of ways.
Virtual learning has become the norm, and many students haven’t set foot on campus or in a classroom, or seen their classmates and professors in person, for months. Extracurricular activities have been limited and other traditions have been replaced or suspended.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is Salt Lake Community College’s dedication to supporting student voices, talent and creativity through art and literary publications.
Folio, SLCC’s award-winning art and literature magazine, has been a staple in the SLCC publishing catalog for over 20 years. Publication of the magazine occurs each spring and fall semester by the Literary Magazine Studies (ENGL 1830) class.
The students collect submissions during the first part of each term, then review the pieces and create a website and printed version of the curated content. Pandemic restrictions complicated this process, but through hard work and creative problem solving, Folio still published content in both fall and spring.
“Due to the concerns of Folio staff and editors regarding COVID, we did all of the Folio work remotely via Zoom and email. It created challenges mostly in designing the print and web editions of ‘Liminality,’ Folio’s spring 2021 edition,” said Folio advisor and professor Kati Lewis.
“Our main goal is to ensure that we honor student work and represent it dynamically in the print edition,” Lewis said. “There were and are some inevitable delays and changes — even starting over again — with the print edition, because all the work is happening remotely, so we reminded ourselves of our main goal.”
Usually, Folio sets up tables in the lobby of the Academic and Administration Building at Taylorsville Redwood Campus to encourage students to submit to the magazine. This wasn’t a possibility this year, forcing the class to find new ways to reach out to writers and artists at SLCC.
This year, each editor and staff member created unique “call for submissions” fliers that they shared with student organizations and clubs. They also relied on diligent posting on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to help solicit submissions and raise awareness of the publication.
“I hope that Folio will work more meaningfully with these organizations and clubs to share and amplify voices in ways that benefit the work that SLCC students are engaged in,” Lewis said.
Instead of the release party gatherings of past years, Folio held their fall 2020 and spring 2021 launches via Zoom. This created more traffic on and exploration of Folio’s website and allowed attendees to “follow along” online with the readers.
According to Lewis, the Zoom chat function also allowed attendees to share praise and reactions to each presenter’s work and fostered a sense of community that went beyond simple applause. The virtual launch option also allowed SLCC creators who do not live near Taylorsville Redwood Campus, where the launch party is traditionally held, to attend and fully participate.
“Storytelling through various forms of human communication, genres, and forms is a powerful way to explore the vast diversity of human experience while also reminding us of our collective humanity,” Lewis said. “SLCC students who share their work with Folio are dynamic and critical reminders of the necessity of diverse voices, histories, stories, and storytelling as well as our shared humanity.”
After this term, Lewis, who has been Folio advisor for four editions, will hand the publishing reins over to Dr. Daniel Baird. She says it’s “always important to move on when you feel like you have done your part” and celebrates her time with the Folio editors and students.
“I will most treasure the respect and dignity that our Folio groups gave to each artist, writer, creator, musician, activist, and more who trusted Folio with their acts of imagination,” Lewis said. “Folio has always-already been more than about publishing student work. It’s been about creating community through the shared human drive to tell and share stories whatever shape, sound, colors, textures, movements those stories take.”
SLCC will soon release the winning manuscripts for the annual SLCC Chapbook contest, with non-fiction being this year’s genre.
The Publication Studies (ENGL 1820) class works closely with the winners, chosen by a panel of judges, to create a print version of their manuscripts. The pandemic has made their work a little harder, but they have managed to put together three books to be released in May and presented in a small virtual event.
“Working with Pub Studies has been awesome. They really care about the pieces they’re given and when I met with them about mine, they had incredible ideas on how to accentuate the strengths in my piece in fun and unique ways. It was very collaborative, and it seems like they take pride in their work,” said finalist and English and writing studies major Henry Knudson.
This is Knudson’s first major experience with publishing at SLCC, and he said the collaborative nature of the process has been one of the best parts of it. He also noted that overcoming the fear of rejection and judgement and convincing himself that someone might care about what he has to say was the hardest part of entering the contest, but was worth it in many ways.
“Every piece submitted, even when not chosen, is part of the gathering of the community to celebrate the writing. Viewing it as only a competition is giving it half credit; it’s about a group of people creating something together to share with everyone,” Knudson said.
This year’s winning books include Knudson’s “Are You There God, It’s Me the Plig Kid” (finalist), Mia Bailey’s “Between Land and Air” (finalist), and Henry Tanka’s “Regal Roadtrip” (first place winner).
SLCC Community Anthology
Every fall, the Publication Studies class creates the Salt Lake Community College Community Anthology. This publication is open to all members of the SLCC community including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other members of the college’s community.
COVID-19 directly impacted this year’s publication, as nearly all of the students had some sort of exposure to the virus, forcing them to self-quarantine. They did most of their work over Zoom and Google Drive and met together briefly near the end of the term to put the physical copies together in the Publication Center, room AAB 137.
With the usual methods of publicizing the publication constrained, the class had to find new ways to reach their networks and solicit submissions. In the end, there were slightly fewer submissions, but students still had enough to build the anthology and hold a small virtual launch party in January with many contributors reading their work.
“I think it’s always good to think about the community in community college. The idea behind the community anthology was to expand our sense of the college’s community — to help faculty, staff, alumni, community members at large, and students to identify as members of a community,” said Lisa Bickmore, associate dean of the English, Linguistics and Writing Studies department and the fall 2020 anthology advisor.
“The anthology is one means by which we can strengthen that identification,” Bickmore continued. “I always love seeing the many locations from which our students write — this also helps us, I hope, to make the boundaries a little more permeable. It’s a hopeful project. Aspirational, in terms of expanding our own definitions of who we are and what we do.”
The pandemic curtailed distribution of the anthology, but copies are now available in the Publication Center.