December 12, 2002

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Now in its fifth edition—
Antioch literary magazine grows

The process of compiling Livermore Street, the Antioch student-run literary and art magazine, can often be a grueling process involving long hours, plenty of coffee and heated discussions.

Now that the fifth edition of the magazine is on sale, many of the volunteer staff are breathing a sigh of relief. Two years ago, Livermore Street did not exist, and only a few writers on campus wished to make something happen with their work. Today there is a flourishing writing circle at Antioch College, even as some of the founders of Livermore Street have graduated.

During the 2000 fall term, a small group of students and faculty talked about providing a literary outlet for the Antioch community. Ben Grossberg, professor of literature and creative writing, and Rachel Moulton, assistant professor of the academic support center, originally brought the idea to students. Steve Haldeman, who has since graduated, created the first issue of Livermore Street in the summer of 2001 as his senior project.

Kristen Muir, who has worked on every issue since the magazine was founded, said the magazine’s staff always encounters problems. “The voting process is still a little too arbitrary,” she said of the process of selecting and cutting submissions. “It would benefit from some sort of guidelines so we can know what we’re looking for in good writing. Then again, what is good writing? That’s at the heart of the problem.”

Many senior staff members said artistic differences are a major source of tension when submissions start to pile up. Yet despite receiving a record amount of poetry, fiction, photographs and artwork over the last three months — for a total of 200 different submissions — the selection process went comparatively smooth, staffers said.

“This term there haven’t been too many catfights, if you will,” said Anne Townsend, who has worked on Livermore Street since the 2001 fall term.

The magazine’s usual publishing schedule begins early in the term when a staff meeting is organized; tasks are assigned and a call is made for submissions. Usually a publicity event or two are held to encourage submissions and awareness. Sometimes the staff holds an open-mike reading but more often the events appear in the form of the one thing many Antioch writers know how to do best: throw gigantic parties with literary themes.

Themes over the past year have ranged from “Fear and Loathing,” based on the works of journalist and fiction writer Hunter S. Thompson, to “The Great Gatsby.” People are expected to dress in accordance with the theme, buy poetry produced on a typewriter there on the spot and submit their art and literature.

Finally, when the parties are over and stacks of submissions sit on the editors’ desks, a selection committee begins sorting through every piece of work. Each piece is reviewed, assigned a rank and then submitted back to the committee. This is where the long hours and coffee come into play.

“There’s usually a three-week period where we’re frantically reading submissions, proofreading and laying it all out,” said Townsend.

Most of the students who worked on the first issue of Livermore Street have recently graduated. Only Muir, a fourth-year student who also co-edits the Antioch Record, Campbell Meeks, a third-year student, and Ross Thomas, a fourth-year creative writing major, still contribute to the magazine.

Younger generation students just getting involved in the process have been both a source of inspiration and aggravation, magazine staffers say.

“Older students have noticed that we have a lot of first-years,” said Caroline Nappo, who has worked on the magazine since the summer of 2001. “There’s a different reverence for the magazine now, it seems more established. It’s kind of a changing of the guard.”

Noting that Livermore Street has quickly become an institution at Antioch, Townsend said much of the “dirty work” is still left up to senior members of the staff.

In spite of the problems that are unique to every issue, staff members agree that the effort is worth it. In a term that has seen a record number of faculty and staff submissions, as well as many student contributions, the final product this term is 100 pages long, complete with artwork and literary work ranging from short love poems to lengthy fiction.

“We’re interested in making an Antioch magazine, not a showcase of three or four people. It’s imperative that it’s inclusive, not exclusive,” said Townsend.

“My interest is not in mimicking a mainstream publication,” said Nappo, citing many literary magazine’s tendencies to headline a featured writer.

“There’s obstacles every term, but we’re basically pretty happy with the end results,” said Nappo.

The fifth edition of Livermore Street is now available at the Antioch College Bookstore.

—Michael Hogan Jr.