Aesthetic & form

Friends, the Sequoya Review is coming together again, earlier this year than any other. Usually, we are so busy in the spring, scrambling to get everything together–the pieces, the look and feel of the magazine, the website–that we have hardly any time to think about aesthetic as a concept. We have been forced, in the past, to sort of blindly grope around the subject of “good” work, using our intuition alone to guide us.

However, by moving the process to the fall we open up for ourselves a large swath of time. We are able to consider this concept of artfulness, and incorporate that into our selection process in a way never before possible. So, with this in mind, what is art? What are we to publish, as the Sequoya Review? I hope to answer this question, rudimentally and tentatively, now; moreover, I hope to spark some discussion in this matter, so that we can come to a better conclusion of who we are and what we publish. I hope that crowd-sourcing this endeavor may prove more fruitful than just laying down rules myself. My thoughts on the matter follow.

  1. The Sequoya Review is, first and foremost, a student publication. We provide a voice to the student population at UTC, fostering creativity here and giving it an outlet, holding up student work and showing it to the world at large, both academic and layman. This means we publish only work by those who are current students at UTC, however it does not mean that we should demand any less in the quality of the work; on the contrary, the students at this university have truly good work which deserves better than intellectual coddling.
  2. The Sequoya Review publishes good work. This is the crux of the matter: what is “good” work? Surely some definition is needed in order to proceed. Of course, with the different genres we publish it may seem difficult to give an across-the-board definition of aesthetic; but I believe that there are some qualities necessary to any work that we publish, and those are completeness and emotional truth. Of course, the work in question must be complete, which generally means some sort of tension and resolution. These are easier to delineate in what I will call the “timely” works, such as poetry, prose, and music, in which the piece unfolds before us through time as we read or listen to it; in visual art this is harder to do. However, if we look at a complete piece of art, it should have some element of tension within it (perhaps the creative process of the artist?) as well as a resolution (which, in the parenthetical case, would be the piece itself). In regards to what I’ve called emotional truth, I mean that quality of a complete piece that resonates with the viewer–that part of the author’s self that comes through in the recitation, reading or viewing of the piece itself. It is the connection that the producer makes through his art, the reaching-out into the world that causes others to recognize it as art. I feel that these two qualities cause a creative work, whether it be verbal, visual or aural in nature, to be what we call “good work.”

That’s a preliminary sketch of where we might be going as a magazine, but of course I can’t pilot this thing myself. We are a collective of students, and as we publish students we are also interested in what those we may publish have to say. So what do you think? What is “art”? What is “good”? Tell us in the comments.

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Lois Lane takes a detour

This was my first semester as a part of the Sequoya Review staff.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn about literary publishing and how to go about editing a literary magazine.  The first thing I learned was that I had no idea what I was doing.  I felt completely in over my head.  I am a newspaper editor, I deal with facts, attribution, quotation marks, and no comas before “and.”  I am a girl in the middle of a world of objectivity and I had been dropped into a sea of creativity.  It was daunting, nervewracking, and humbling.  Thankfully I was surrounded by people who had sat right where I was and they made it out alive, so there was atleast some hope for me. 

We dove right in to the reading process and I figured I would do pretty well with this, because I have been able to read for many years now.  With the first story I realized how different this process would be than editing my newspaper.  Any form of writing requires dedication and heart, because it is art.  This writing though, is like someone placing their soul out on the paper and I had to decide what I liked or disliked about it.  I began to wonder if I was really qualified to be making these decisions, what did I know about literary editing?  I was just the new kid on the block.  I definitely felt at home when the copy editing started though, that I did every week, so I knew I could at least handle dealing with the punctuation. 

With each story I became more emotionally invested in the process.  It was an honor to be able to read these writer’s thoughts and an even greater honor to be a small help in the process of getting them to publication.  So instead of focusing on all the things I didn’t know I started asking questions, even the embarrassing ones everyone else seemed to know the answer to.  I learned several things over the course of the semester, all of which I will be able to use in my future career as a journalist, writer, or circus preformer for all I know.

1. There will always be many people who know far more than you do so just accept it now and save yourself and everyone else the pain of you pretending you know everything.

2. Ask questions even if they are embarrassing, because not asking is far worse in the long run than not knowing.

3. There are unlimited types of writing and all of them are an art form.

4. You can always learn more about any subject.

5. Having a competant, well organized staff is not an option if you want success, it is a must.  End of discussion.