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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.
SVR's 2014 Submission Guidelines

Friday, April 27, 2012

“Even a Word Has a Story”

On Tuesday, Solano Community College was pleased to welcome Patricia Killelea. Ms. Killelea is a former Solano student who is also our poet feature for the 2012 edition of the Suisun Valley Review. It’s more of a homecoming than anything, really; not only is she a former student, but she has also been published in the Suisun Valley Review before!

For the first half of the hour, Killelea read to us from her book of poems: “Other Suns.” A Native American Studies doctoral student, Killelea incorporates Native American mythology and imagery in many of her poems, such as in “Report: Police Shoot Baby Deer in Oakland for No Reason.” (We were also treated to “Long Blue Coat,” which was the poem published in the Suisun Valley Review.) Her poems are also influenced by the natural world, particularly the marshes of northern California. When she reads aloud, she is so passionate that her shoulders rock with the words, punctuating phrases.

After the reading, she answered questions and spoke to many qualities of poetry. One of the most important qualities is sound: Killelea says, “Poems weren’t meant to be on paper,” for they began only as the spoken word, long before language was written. While she stresses that sound is not more important than the subject matter, it is a very important part of her poetry, and can even become the subject matter in some cases.

Killelea prefers writing poetry over writing fiction prose; she feels more comfortable in this condensed form. But she doesn’t feel far from stories, because poems have stories just as prose does. She told us, “Even a word has a story.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Great Split

I am of the opinion that half of us SVR editors live in Japan, and half of us live in France. (Actually, we’re all living in California, but metaphorically speaking, when it comes to what we perceive to be great literature, we’re on different continents.)

To date, we have voted on several packets, and the number of pieces that are most likely going into the magazine are currently, well, three. The number of pieces that might go into the magazine are around a dozen. The number of pieces we have rejected are significantly and apologetically larger. Even though we have still a great many more submissions to review, we don’t appear to be agreeing on very much. So, what do we do?

When we vote for pieces to go into the magazine, we inevitably end up with three categories: “yes” pieces, “maybe” pieces, and our least-favorite category, “no” pieces. If we don’t have enough “yes” pieces, we will dip into the “maybe” category, considering first the pieces with the highest number of yes votes. SVR editors have never before needed to do this—this might be our first year!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

From the Horse's Mouth

Yes, that is the sound of tumbleweed you hear. There's not much to report, because we're students as well as editors - and it's spring break. No classes, nothing new, nothing to report. Just the reading, which is fun for us, but boring for you to hear about.

So in anticipation of this most potentially-boring blog week, we decided to prepare a few lines. I asked a few of my fellow editors to pen, type, carve, or stamp a few words about what being an editor, being a part of the magazine and this whole process, is like for them. Here's what they came up with:

I feel like a judge from American Idol. If Randy and Simon had a bastard child, I would be that child.

I'm a wine-and-dine sort of editor. You've gotta take me to dinner, feed me, make me laugh—you know. Basics.

As a past Editor of the Suisun Valley Review, I feel as though I have learned not only about being an editor, but also how to communicate ideas effectively and evaluate literary craft in a way that can only be supported through this classroom model. It's all about learning what it means to take on the role and responsibilities of an editor because the students are publishing a real magazine by the end of Spring.

Being a part of SVR has introduced me to a wonderful world of literature that I never knew about and never want to leave.

Five truths: it's hard; it's easy; it's fun; it's humbling; it's one of the coolest things I've ever done. But one thing is certain: the editing process, for me, with this magazine, will never be frightfully devoid of chocolate. Or good poems. And that's pretty cool.

As a writer, it is really interesting and beneficial to see how work is received by the editors. I have learned as an editor to be critical of each piece while still being able to appreciate it, and I've found that balance to be quite delicate. I have also been floored by the quality of the work that has been submitted to our magazine and I have fallen in love with a few pieces already.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Progress on the Cover Front

You’ve already heard that we were working on our internal layout some weeks ago. Well, the truth is, we couldn’t do much more on that front until we took a huge step with the cover layout. This week, we took that step:

The 2012 Suisun Valley Review has a cover image!

There’s still a lot to do before our cover will be ready for print, but this was the biggest job to do. And what a chore it was! We got so many great art submissions this season. We made a dozen cover mocks or so, of several different images, but we could only choose one. Our cover image choices ranged from silly and whimsical to elegant and majestic.

Once we got all the most popular choices together, we had to sit down and vote. We voted once to get our top five, a second time to get our top three, and a third time to get our top one.

What was our top one?

You’ll have to wait until the magazine is published!

(Oooh, I hate cliffhangers, too! Sorry, folks.)