By Matthew Sotlar
Youngstown State University’s Student Literary Arts Association is collecting material for its online literary publication magazine, Jenny Magazine.
SLAA is a student organization that promotes involvement in literary arts, including writing and poetry. After starting in 2010, SLAA began publishing Jenny Magazine.
English and creative writing professor and SLAA advisor, Christopher Barzak, said online publications are the best way for the organization to receive exposure.
“One of the things an online publication has is the ability to reach a wider audience all around the world,” Barzak said.
The name Jenny was chosen from the Jeannette Blast Furnace. This same Jenny was also referenced in the Bruce Springsteen song, “Youngstown.” The furnace was housed in Brier Hill Steel in Youngstown and remained in operation for 60 years, ceasing blasts in 1977 when Brier Hill Steel shut down.
Barzak said Jenny Magazine highlights not only Youngstown’s industrial history, but its cultural and creative diversity.
“They [SLAA] wanted to have a magazine that is devoted to showing that Youngstown’s history has been in industrial manufacturing and is also a place where we have lots of cultural manufacturing,” Barzak said. “There are writers here, there are artists here [and] we want to display them.”
Jenny’s editorial staff is composed of SLAA members and the staff changes every year. Most of the material published is fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, personal essays and featured artists.
Despite being run by the SLAA, Barzak said Jenny Magazine publishes material from all over the world.
“Anyone can submit. You don’t have to be a YSU student, you can be a member of the community in general. You can be from anywhere in the world,” Barzak said.
Before Jenny Magazine, SLAA hosted the Youngstown Reading Series, a series of lectures introducing both students and the broader community to authors from both the Youngstown area and from around the country. Previous lecturers have included poet Peter Oresick and authors Nin Andrews, Eric Wasserman and Alan DeNiro. The series began in 2008.
Barzak said that SLAA is great for both publishing literature and teaching students how to publish a professional magazine.
“Students who love literature, both reading it and writing it, and who want to also learn the process of how to go about creating an issue of a magazine and all the processes that go along with that,” Barzak said.
Jenny is releasing a special themed issue called “Reimagine Youngstown,” which will include material focused on the city of Youngstown in some way, shape or form.
Jenny usually publishes toward the end of the school year. Barzak said that the selection process for the magazine can be extensive.
“We tend to get hundreds of submissions each year, and we can’t include everything. So we go through that process of evaluation … and then we go through stages of copyediting the material… and we release the issue sometime around mid-April,” Barzak said.