The Monmouth Review Gets a Review

It is almost guaranteed that during a student’s stay at the University they will encounter a collection of mysterious, yet awe-inspiring, little magazines titled the Monmouth Review. But while these students are flipping through the pages and absorbing the literary and artistic works, they may not exactly know who is responsible for creating such a publication, or even really know why they would make such a magazine. Though it is not a high-end secret who the individuals are that create the Monmouth Review, it is not necessarily well known to the University community either.  However, that all might change with the new adaptations that the both the organization and the publication are making with their next big issue.

While the Monmouth Review is most known for being a once-a-semester compilation of literary works, such as poetry and prose, and artworks, ranging from paintings to photographs to pottery, the group behind the magazine is attempting to bring publication into the digital age with a first time ever Monmouth Review iPad app.

Olivia Greco, President of the Monmouth Review Club, said that the idea of having a Monmouth Review app has been in the works for a while now, but with the last issue being the biggest issue yet, it appeared like the perfect timing to finally put the plan in motion.  “With this issue, it was the first issue that we did an iPad publication so you can download it for free through the App Store. So it’s not an app but it’s a publication, so you can page through the issue cover to cover and there are a few interactive pieces, like you will be able to hear certain artist or writers talk about their work, and the cover is animated on the iPad publication which is pretty cool. It will be a bit of an interactive piece,” said Greco.

She also stated that there have been talks of perhaps incorporating more effects within the online publication further down the line. “We hope to have more sections where there are people talking about their work… I don’t know if there will be more interactive pieces but we were talking about doing a 3-D augmented reality kind of option which may come in the future,” Greco said.

Alison Abate, Vice President of the Monmouth Review Club, further believes that with the utilization of the new online publication through the App Store more of a variety of published artists will be made available. “…This would be a really great outlet to get animation students to submit artwork because before we would have to have clips of their animations as printed pieces where instead now they can submit their videos,” Abate stated.

Although, there is a brand new app in the works for the publication, there is no slowing down the amount of work that it already takes to make the Monmouth Review a reality.

“When we finish one issue, there is very little time before we get to sit back, pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, and then say okay let’s get back out there and start looking for more literature,” said Kayla Helfrich, Editor-in-Chief of the Monmouth Review, “It pretty much starts all over again the next day. As the Editor-in-Chief, the first thing I do is reach out to the creative writing professors on campus, Dr. Waters, Professor Emmons, and Professsor Febos, and ask them to alert their classes that the Monmouth Review is collecting poetry and prose.”

Greco shares the same idea as Helfrich and said that, like with the literary side of things, the collection of artwork, and the whole layout and design process, doesn’t really stop until the files are sent out for printing on the final day of production.

“…It takes a lot to not only ask students for their work, but to choose work that could be paired well with the literature that we get from that side, so there’s a lot that goes into cooperating with the literature side and trying to produce this kind of cohesive and, not necessarily having a theme, but just that the art and literature is paired up in a way that reads as a book or an issue,” stated Greco.

However, those aren’t the only hurdles that the production team of the Review has to deal with. When it comes to actually acquiring and deciding on pieces to publish there is another whole process that the team has to grapple with, such as gaining consent from the writer or artist and obtaining the proper format of the piece.

“What I like to remind the editorial staff when we’re going through submissions is that it’s not whether we like a piece,” said Helfrich, “There have been pieces that we have accepted that may not have been the most groundbreaking pieces of literature, but the next day we all agreed that we were still thinking about it. Not because it was disturbing or gross but because the writing just had a way of sitting with us. Those are the kinds of pieces that we want in the magazine.”

Professor Richison, a specialist professor for the art and design department and one of the advisors for the Monmouth Review Club, added that selecting pieces to incorporate within the review takes special thought and planning as well, which can serve as another test. “It’s always very challenging to gather a variety of artwork that fairly represents the diversity of the art department,” stated Richison, “We try very hard to make sure all disciplines and media are represented. When you have a big mix of things like posters, paintings, sculptures, prints, animation, etc., it can be a very daunting task to organize, catalog, and document all the work. We deal with this challenge by taking a big step back to get a sense of how the overall magazine will flow.”

With all of the challenges that the group faces in production, the actual purposes of the Monmouth Review continually motivates its members to power on through the obstacles and create each issue.

As Dr. Waters, a professor for the English department and the co-advisor for the Monmouth Review Club, put it, “The purpose of the Monmouth Review is to allow students to learn first-hand how to produce a literary arts journal.” He continued to state that, “An equally important purpose of the Monmouth Review is to celebrate the creative talents of our students by making sure their best work is made available…The [Monmouth Review] means to encourage such artistry, in part by gathering such works together to allow them to speak to and enhance each other. The current editors have been working hard to produce and promote the journal, and I admire their dedication and spirit.

Rachel Fisher, a senior and member of the Monmouth Review Club, stated that although she only become involved with the review this semester, the purpose and, as Water’s put it, the spirit of the publication has already left an impact on her. “It has made me look at artwork at Monmouth differently. Noticing, at least being involved with the Monmouth Review, I’ve been able to go out and look at these students’ art and at least start to appreciate it because a student’s art doesn’t really come out of [Rechnitz Hall],” Fisher said. “Going through the Monmouth Review you look and you’re like, ‘Oh my God a student did this. Somebody that’s my age was able to create this piece of work that’s making me look at things completely differently,’ and then being involved with creating that in a book, and now an interactive iPad app, is so awesome.”

Despite the struggles that come with the production of the magazine, most wouldn’t have it any other way and believe that it has priceless impact, not only on the campus community at large, but on the members themselves.

“I think it’s an amazing record of what our students think about. You can read the literature and look at the artwork and really get a feeling for who our students are,” Richison said, “I hope the students are able to see the value of the work of their colleagues throughout the whole department, not just within their own discipline… Hopefully the review gives everyone a chance to see what everyone’s doing on the “other side of the fence.”

Both Greco and Helfrich said that the Monmouth Review Club will be hosting a launch party for their newest issue on Feb. 21 in Rechnitz Hall room 107 at 4 pm. At the event the featured artists and writers can come and discuss or read their pieces in an open mic format, and light refreshments will be served.