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The Suisun Valley Review was established as a way for the students of Solano Community College to learn the art and craft of editing a literary journal while putting together their own magazine once a year. Since the first issue was published in 1981, student editors have collaborated on over thirty issues of SVR, carefully selecting the contents from new and established writers from across the U.S. and abroad. The students are also directly involved with creating the overall design aesthetic and narrative of each issue. Each spring, all of their hard work and endless creative energy is repaid with a bound collection of prose and poetry, sold and kept as a testament to sleepless nights.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

How To Read (Like An Editor)

One of the topics that has most dominated this week’s classes is how to read the poems and stories we receive. In conjunction with this discussion, we’re also discussing: what is a poem, and what is a short story?

The answer seems obvious, but it’s more open-ended than many of us realized. We all come equipped with different perceptions (none of them inherently incorrect) of what literature really is, just based off of our own reading experiences and preferences. The key to reading like an editor is focusing on the craft of the poem or story, and less on whether or not we like (dislike, love, or hate) what the poem or story is about.

This is what we’re practicing in the interim before we start the real deal: we have our class reader (a packet of poems and short stories that we chose from literary magazines) and we have our practice packets. We use the mock packets to practice voting on pieces, as well as practice how we go about discussing them.

Next week, we will be continuing our practice rounds, but we’ll also be talking about censorship. Is censorship ever okay, and do we always know when we’re doing it? It’s another “obvious” topic that will likely open many doors to interesting and eye-opening conversation.