The Review Process of AmLit, Op-Ed Style


pamela huber

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Take a quick peek in at an AmLit meeting and you might be shocked to learn how many artists and art appreciators are working quietly in the shadow of AU’s future politicians and humanitarians. These are the kids that make references to Sylvia Plath in your gender and politics class and crack satiric jokes.

AmLit, AU’s student run literary arts magazine, is big, no way getting around it. Some 65 students make up the general staff of the magazine and votes on its content with a smaller pool of editors running the mechanics of the club. This past year saw a huge expansion in the editor pool, with editors-in-chief Sam Falewee and Michelle Merica creating many brand new assistant editor positions to help new staff members get involved in the inner workings of AmLit right away. Additionally, Sam and Michelle added film to the magazine’s four preexisting sections of photography, prose, art, and poetry, which all students can submit their work to for publication.

Yet, despite AmLit’s size, the fact that it has been around since 1977, and the national acclaim it has received from organizations like the Associated Collegiate Press, a lot of people do not know much about it. And those who do don’t always understand our process or our aesthetic.

AmLit is committed to showcasing AU’s best talent in the creative arts and holds itself to a high standard; the magazine has a 13 percent acceptance rate. With the average submissions drive raking in around 200 photographs and 100 poems without breaking a sweat as well as another 100 pieces in the other categories, the process can get highly selective.

AmLit has one of the most democratically fair publication processes on campus. There are no requirements to join the general staff who vote on submissions. Additionally, the magazine accepts submissions on a completely blind basis, i.e. if your piece is up for review or you know who the author is, you cannot vote or speak about the piece in a review session. Favoritism is not possible. Since the editors-in-chief alone compile all of the submissions data, they are not allowed to speak about or vote on the submissions.

In spite of the blind voting process of review sessions, a quick scan through different issues’ tables of contents does sometimes reveal many of the same names popping up again and again. This pattern arises in part because those whose pieces are admitted each semester not only have talent, but they submit a lot semester after semester. Also, attending review sessions allows people to hear constructive criticism of their work, edit it, and resubmit next semester.

A love for the arts drives the AmLit staff each semester to dedicate weeks of their lives to reviewing hundreds of submissions. Rich discussions at review sessions provide the chance for everyone to voice their opinions, regardless of whether they study literature, economics, or biology. The result is more than just a published magazine – it’s a home for the expressive, the spirited, the dreamers.