Jenny Magazine gets spooky

By Lindsey Linard

Jenny Magazine is a Youngstown State University literary publication that’s releasing its 21st edition April 20. 

Jenny is a student-led online magazine created in 2010 that publishes works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and art.

 Named after the Jeannette Blast Furnace, a furnace from Youngstown’s steel-producing days dubbed “Jenny,” the magazine pays homage to Youngstown’s working-class history. 

According to Cassandra Lawton, Jenny Magazine’s editor-in-chief, the publication receives hundreds of submissions each year from writers both in the YSU community and internationally — connecting the city of Youngstown with people from around the world. 

“We want to be a Youngstown magazine that looks outward,” Lawton said. “And [it] brings outward, inward, which is really fun.”

This year’s issue will feature 18 pieces of writing that were curated by a staff of YSU students. The magazine chose the theme of “the supernatural” to follow this year, with all the published works containing some aspect of ghosts, ghouls or general spookiness. 

Submissions to the magazine are reviewed by multiple student readers and judged with a rating system. Criteria include: theme, story arcs and characters, formatting, grammatical errors and more. 

Faculty advisor Christopher Barzak said there are benefits for students working at the magazine, such as learning how to gather and edit content, making editorial decisions, branding or developing a branded entity like a magazine, fundraising, publicizing and organizing events.

“The students who work on Jenny in some capacity learn how to organize as a team to create something together,” Barzak stated. “These are all transferable skills that they can take to many other kinds of careers.” 

Some roles YSU students can fill on the magazine staff are managing editor, fiction editor, poetry editor, nonfiction editor, copyeditor, contributing editor and submission evaluator, as well as jobs outside the magazine such as social media managers, event coordinators and public relations. 

Poetry Editor Tommy Mihalopoulos was first introduced to the magazine when he submitted his writing in 2021. He then joined the staff and has been working at Jenny ever since. 

Mihalopoulos said Jenny is a unique opportunity for students to have their work published.

“You can say you’re published,” Mihalopoulos said. “That’s something that you hear about but you never know how to do, and Jenny’s a great avenue for that.”

Once this year’s issue is released, students can start submitting their writing for next year’s edition by going to Jenny Magazine’s website

Jenny will host a launch party at 6 p.m. April 20, at Westside Bowl to celebrate the release of this year’s issue. The event is free and open to the public and YSU students are encouraged to attend for fun, food and socializing.

The magazine staff will offer sample readings from the content selected for the issue, and five of this year’s published authors will do a live reading of their works. 

Mihalopoulos said bringing people together for the event is something the staff looks forward to.

“It’s cool to have everyone coming in for a little celebration and it’s just fun to hang out,” Mihalopoulos said. “All the stress and the hard stuff is done, now we get to celebrate.”

Students can get involved with the magazine by emailing [email protected] and can read the latest issue on its website.