As many of you may know, here at Penumbra, we've had our Summer 2022 call, dedicated to LGBTQ+ authors and artists, open for some time now. Although the call is still open for a few more days, our Summer team has officially begun reviewing submissions, something we typically wait to start until close to the end of our submission window. With that in mind, we wanted to reveal some of the reasoning behind our submission guidelines in regard to our voting process.
For those who have been with us for some time now, you've probably seen that we ask that every submitter submits works individually--for example, if someone wishes to submit two poems, the poems should be separate submissions, not in the same document. This is something that often gets misunderstood in our guidelines, and we'll still receive a number of submissions that have multiple works in one submission. While we will often still consider those pieces, especially if it seems like a misunderstanding in our instructions, we wanted to explain why we are so particular about each work being a separate submission.
In Submittable, our entire team votes on every submission and then we move to discussion if our opinions are split. When dealing with one work per submission, this process is fairly straightforward and we are able to make our decisions in a timely manner. When dealing with multiple works in each submission, however, it becomes more complicated. Someone might be in favor of including the first submission but not the second, while someone else might like the second more. Other people might not think either piece is a fit and yet others might want to accept both. This prevents us from cleanly voting for the piece and requires us to stop and discuss until we come to a specific agreement. For every submission like this, our decision-making process is prolonged, which delays our own responses to our submitters. For our Summer and Fall issues when we are working solely with a smaller, experienced staff, this is not too much of a concern. However, our Spring staff always includes many temporary new members who are not used to the process--working with documents that include multiple works becomes practically impossible for them.
We appreciate every submission we receive, but especially those who adhere to all of our submission rules and guidelines. We sincerely thank those who carefully follow those rules for helping create a more accessible submission pool for our staff to work with.
In terms of our submissions so far, we wanted to add that all of us on the Penumbra staff this Summer are truly impressed by the works we are seeing. Reviewing submissions and deciding on our acceptances is one of the most exciting parts of Penumbra, even when it is made difficult by so many wonderful submissions.
We anticipate having our decisions made in the next week or so, so please stay tuned on our social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @csustanpenumbra) for additional updates!
As we come closer to the Penumbra Spring 2022 book launch, we have released several things in connection to this issue of the journal. One of the first things we released is a Spotify playlist you can gain access to here on this website through the "Penumbra Online Media" tab. With this playlist, we wanted to add a kind of audio connection to the various pieces we will be publishing in the journal. Through this, we compiled a list of two to three songs that we felt connected to the content or vibe of the pieces that can be listened to while going through the journal. The songs are meant to add a layer to the reading experience in hopes to show the readers another aspect of how to go through the journal. We believe that music and literature go together in such a way that what you hear helps the pieces resonate in an additional way to their already impressive strength.
Along with the playlist, we have officially published the online Art Exhibition showcasing all of the art pieces that will be published in the upcoming journal. Found here at penumbraart2021.wixsite.com/spring2022 people can interact with all of the art while learning more about the artists who created it. Here you will find not only the works and their mediums, but also short blurbs from various artists about the creation of their pieces. Here people will have easy access to witnessing all of the great works of art that will be found throughout the journal. We hope that everyone gets the chance to interact with these works in these different ways!
Over the past few months, our editors have been hard at work reviewing submissions and finalizing edits to our selected works. This brings us to the next stage of the print process–book design!
After we confirm the finalized versions of each piece, the Penumbra team has many options to consider when it comes to book cover, format, and dimensions. As a group, we use surveys to narrow down which art piece we’d like to double as our journal cover. This allows time for editors to consider what piece will lend itself to be a cover (i.e. what isn’t too busy, what has space for a title, etc.). After we determine which piece we’d like as a cover, we make mock covers to visually determine what we like. For the past few years, our print editions have generally been the same 8.5 x 11 size. This year, we’d like to try something new–something with wider dimensions. We like to let our student editors consider what they think would be visually and physically pleasing as a reader, and during our time together we collaborate to see what looks best to the majority. Sometimes we will reach out to the artist of the book cover to see what they have to say on the matter. By the end of a couple weeks, we’ll have solidified the cover, dimensions, and title placement of our edition’s print journal.
Beyond deciding on the cover, we still have a bit more to think about when it comes to what’s inside the journal. For instance, from the journal’s dimensions we think about the placement of the pieces. Will the text be left-aligned? Will pieces have wide margins? Will poetry be in two columns? These are all questions we ask ourselves, as everyone on the Penumbra team acts as designers for the journal. Once we determine what we believe looks best for the journal, we can begin inputting pieces into our software. After we decide how the journal will look, the process of putting the journal together is fairly straightforward.
We hope you enjoy these updates as we continue preparing for Spring 2022’s edition of Penumbra. The virtual book launch and release of the journal are scheduled for May 14th—look out for more updates either on our website or social media pages @csustanpenumbra!
As many of our readers and contributors know, our Fall 2021 "Love for Others" issue launched recently for Penumbra Online and our chapbooks for Penumbra Press were added to the website, as well. Behind the scenes of these projects, our staff has been hard at work, working alongside our contributors to present these wonderful new additions to the literary world. With each issue Penumbra produces, whether for Penumbra Online and Penumbra Press or for the print journal, our staff often works closely with our contributors and readers. What many may not know, however, is how frequently, as a student-run literary journal, our staff members change.
Penumbra's staff, unlike many other publications, is entirely comprised of students, faculty, and voluntary alumni, and is therefore ever changing. Some faces remain the same for a few issues in a row as many of us fall in love with our work, enjoying the feeling of publishing new pieces alongside our wonderful authors. Some, like myself, love being a part of Penumbra so much that we stay on even after graduating, opting to continue working on a volunteer basis. However, with every new issue, some familiar faces leave and some new faces join us, especially with the Spring semester's print journal team. During the Spring, Penumbra welcomes a classroom full of new students and boasts a fairly large but new staff to create the print journal. At the same time, some of the more experienced staff from Summer and Fall move onward and no longer have time in their schedule to remain a part of Penumbra.
This year, most of the Fall 2021 staff will continue participating in Penumbra for the Spring 2022 term. However, our roles may change. For instance, I will continue my role as the social media manager and a member of the blog and Spotify teams, but my role as editor will likely be more limited. Some of our Fall and Summer projects will also be placed on hold throughout the Spring, such as our clubs. Those who sign on to be a part of the Summer and Fall staff for Penumbra Online will once again shift their roles later in 2022. As confusing as these changes may seem, the continuous evolution of Penumbra's staff not only ensures that every staff member has the chance to try out new challenges and grow as an editor and designer, but also that contributors can be assured of fresh perspectives with each issue when they submit their work to us.
With that said, one other change that bears mentioning is Penumbra's staff hiatus for the winter break, starting on December 18th and ending around January 28th. Given that the majority of our staff are students and that the staff will be changing between our Fall issue and our Spring issue, we will largely be inactive, even though our Spring call is currently open. Our email will likely be checked infrequently, so if you email us, please do not expect an immediate response. We will still be active in a limited capacity, largely in the form of less-frequent social media updates, so please follow our social media (@csustanpenumbra on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). These updates will focus on our open Spring call, including if our submissions fill up and we close the call early. As the social media manager, I will also keep an eye out for any questions or comments and will do my best to answer in a timely fashion during the hiatus.
Despite our staff's upcoming inactivity, we hope contributors will continue to submit to our Spring 2022 call, open until February 8, 2022 or 500 submissions have been reached, whichever comes first. When our Spring staff convenes at the end of January, we will begin reviewing submissions. Please continue showing us your support, as it is much appreciated. We wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, and we will see you all in 2022!
Although our staff has decided which submissions we intend to publish in our Fall 2021 Penumbra Online issue, we are just getting started with our process. We are dedicated to ensuring every piece we publish is polished and has been painstakingly prepared for our viewers. As such, we are now deep into our editing process.
For this round of editing, we have opted to divide our editors into two teams -- one dedicated to poetry and hybrid literature and one dedicated to prose publications -- to ensure that our editors have the time and capability to truly focus on individual pieces. These smaller teams are entirely responsible for their set of accepted works, reading over each piece several times and checking for any wording or punctuation that may cause readers an element of confusion. Although rarely an issue, our teams must also consider our platform, Weebly, and its limitations for formatting. In cases where certain pieces required formatting not supported by Weebly, an alternative option would need to be discussed, such as using an image of the finalized piece in place of entering the text itself. We strive to allow our platform to be a space for all authors and artists, so it is of great importance to us that we can circumvent any limitations and maintain the authors' desired formatting.
The editing process is highly collaborative for each of our editing teams. During this time, we generate a Google Doc with all of the works that particular team is assigned to. Our editing team, comprised of three members, was in charge of poetry and hybrid literature for this issue. Each of us took the time to go through the document and consider which edits we deemed necessary for publication. In order to confirm that all team members agreed on specific changes, we utilized the comments section in the document to note any changes we would like made without actually incorporating any changes. This sometimes led our team to a lengthy discussion over whether an edit was truly needed or, if it was needed, which would be the least intrusive way to introduce the edit to the work.
Such discussions aimed to clarify any unintentional ambiguity that we foresaw in a particular piece. As a rule, we try to limit the edits we do to punctuation and grammar—maintaining the integrity of each artist’s piece is our number one priority when we edit. If team members disagreed or were unsure what the artist truly meant, we also made sure to get into contact with that piece’s artist to find out what they ultimately wanted for the published work. This way we leave no room for confusion and best adhere to the artist’s wishes.
When we're satisfied with the edits, we then turn the pieces over to the design team who transports those edited pieces into the website. This process should be fairly simple, but at times formatting issues arise. Luckily our design team is quick to catch issues and makes sure that every piece looks as intended before the virtual journal is launched!
At the moment, Penumbra Online is still editing the pieces accepted into its Fall 2021 “Love for Others” edition. Soon we will be designing the latest edition and launching the journal! Look out for the day of our launch, which is scheduled for December 4th, to see Penumbra Online’s latest edition. And thank you to all who support us!
Jessica Charest and Andrea Wagner
At this time of year, the Penumbra Online staff is typically sorting through the many submissions we receive, reading through them all, discussing our thoughts, and ultimately voting on which pieces we believe should be featured in this edition of Penumbra Online. This fall, our theme is "Love for Others," which promotes all the aspects that go into loving those around us. We have received numerous poems, short stories, and artworks focusing on this theme, and it is a delight to see how so many people interpret love in various ways!
During these next coming weeks, we will continue discussing and selecting pieces we believe should be featured in this edition of the journal with the rest of the Penumbra Online staff. Since our staff is relatively small, we all get a chance to speak on which pieces we think deserve a spot! As a democratic staff, we allow others to argue for a piece's spot in the journal and vote on whether we wish to have it featured or not. The selection process itself is honestly my favorite part of the journal's process, despite it being fairly challenging. We receive so many pieces, all of them incredibly unique, differing in style and content, but in the end, we must choose a fraction of what we get to see. By the end of this process, we should have a cohesive collection of pieces that express numerous perspectives on "Love for Others" in an eloquent, refreshing way.
Being able to discuss the many works from our passionate submitters and appreciate the array of ways others interpret the same theme is what makes being a part of Penumbra and Penumbra Online so enjoyable. We hope that submitters continue to send their work, even after our Fall call closes! Soon we will be opening our call for the Spring edition of Penumbra, which will consist of a virtual as well as printed version of the journal. This call is typically up in late November.
We look forward to seeing your work!
This fall, Penumbra Online has truly started its process of creating three chapbooks from the submissions we received this summer. The past several weeks we have been editing, designing, and working with the authors to create three unique chapbooks, which will be published by the end of this year. As one of the Penumbra Press Leads, I have learned so much in terms of what work goes into designing and creating a professional-grade book of poetry.
Firstly, after choosing our three chapbook authors, Penumbra Press selected three leads to facilitate and ensure the completion of each book. As a lead myself, I made sure to contact the author, delegate editing design roles, and set a schedule for the production of the chapbook. Editing for a chapbook proved to be a bit different than our normal journal process, as all the poems were from the same author and tended to stay within a certain theme or method. We at Penumbra try our best to keep within the spirit of what the author intended, so we tend to only include edits we see absolutely necessary. Designing the chapbook was much more involved, as these chapbooks have completely different dimensions and styles than our Penumbra Spring journals.
The chapbook that I was tasked to lead, ON BIRDS/WINGS/ROADS/SILENCE, will look entirely different from our previous publications, which is very exciting! These chapbooks will be much smaller than our Spring editions, ranging closer to 30 to 35 pages than our typical 100+ page editions. The poet has much more control over how the finished product will look, as we are in closer contact with them than with our typical submitters. Our chapbook poets had the option to submit their own art as the cover design as well, which is what Dottie Lo Bue, author of ON BIRDS/WINGS/ROADS/SILENCE, in fact did. We are so excited to be able to bring these chapbooks to life, and after months of hard work, we can truly see it all come together.
If you’re interested in seeing our chapbooks, including Dottie’s, stay tuned so that you can be one of the firsts to find out when they’ll officially be published! Due to printing and funding issues, Penumbra must wait until the spring to hear word on whether our chapbooks will be available as physical copies; however, we plan to be able to distribute the chapbooks digitally as well. If you missed out on the opportunity to send your chapbook sample this summer to be evaluated by Penumbra Press, look out for more chances to submit your work, such as our Fall Penumbra Online call (which closes October 11th!) and our Penumbra Spring call, which will open later this year. We hope to hear (read) from you very soon!
Continuing from our Summer "Self-Love" theme, our staff decided to celebrate love in its other forms, settling on the theme of "Love for Others" for the Fall 2021 issue. Over the past year and a half, many have been placed in situations where they were unable to spend time with loved ones, missing out on friendly gatherings, family get-togethers, and romantic getaways. Bonds between people were tested by distance. We decided that, in addition to taking the time to remember the importance of loving oneself, we also wanted everyone to take a moment to think about those that they love. From our perspective, this particular theme is especially important as we enter into the holiday season in the Fall and beginning of winter -- Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, to name a few. The holiday season is a time where we often seek to be closest to friends, family, and other loved ones.
In selecting "Love for Others" as our theme, we thought about the definition and worked to ensure that all forms of love are included in our theme. Loving others outside of ourselves does not only apply to romantic relationships but to platonic friendships, familial love, and even a love for community. In addition, while love is often considered in its positive forms, we acknowledge that sometimes, this is not the case. Loss of a loved one or loving someone despite hardships are both just as important as the lighter feelings of love and friendship. We hope to see all sorts of different forms of love through the art, poetry, and prose pieces submitted to this issue. In keeping in line with our mission, we also hope that our Fall theme, "Love for Others" will resonate with everyone, including those from marginalized communities. We believe that this is a theme that impacts all writers and artists around the world, and we wish to use our platform to allow everyone to show their love.
Following our final decisions, the accepted works passed through our copy-editing phase, along to our small volunteer design team. Although our Summer 2021 Self-Love Issue is only our third virtual launch, our design team members have started becoming more comfortable with the overall format of our digital issues. In preparing what we hope is a visually pleasing, easy to use website, we designed the format for the current Summer Issue with three different viewing methods in mind. The first method is from the initial table of contents, where readers and viewers can select the specific piece they would like to enjoy from the table of contents and be taken directly to that piece. Our second viewing method was designed for those who might be interested in one specific genre; by clicking on the genre on any of our issue's pages, a viewer can be taken to a page that allows them to scroll through all accepted pieces in that genre without having to access each one individually. Finally, our third viewing method is for those who wish to browse the entire issue in one continuous page, which can be accessed via the "View All" button on any of the pages in the issue. In this way, we hope to provide options to our viewers so that everyone can enjoy the issue in whichever way suits them the best.
On August 14th, we not only launched our Summer 2021 Issue, which can, at the time of writing, be found under the "Current Issue" tab and will later be permanently available under our "Archives" tab, we also held our virtual launch event in the form of a casual coffee hour. Our event was held as a celebration of the authors and artists who were published in our issue, but it also celebrated our self-love theme and provided a relaxed environment where contributors, staff members, and other attendees could talk about writing, art, and the various experiences and inspirations we've had. Our virtual launch, held via Zoom, is something we, at Penumbra Online, enjoy hosting as a celebration of each new issue we publish. It provides us with an opportunity to meet new people and expand our creative circle. For those who missed our Summer event, we will begin work on our Fall 2021 Issue soon, and everyone is, of course, welcome to attend our Fall event when it takes place. For every issue, we strive to further our development and create something that brings enrichment and enjoyment to our audience.
This summer the Penumbra Online staff met and the first topic of conversation was this edition’s theme. While there were many potential themes that felt relevant, when the theme of self-love came up it just felt right. After the year we have all had we wanted to promote a positive, yet real edition. While all forms of love are important the truth is self-love is often overlooked and underappreciated. With this in mind, our staff decided to have self-love be our series theme. As a staff, we made sure to take the time to really define what self-love looks like. We were interested in receiving authentic and raw glimpses of self-love (and we were not disappointed). During the creation of this edition, we learned a lot about ourselves and what we consider to be self-love. What we found is that self-love is not about “self-care” trips to the spa or time alone in a man cave. Real interpretations of self-love are not as simple as one small act of self-care; instead self-love calls for introspection and acceptance. This can take time and more often than not it is a lifelong journey for many of us to find ways to properly love ourselves. After a year where we all just tried to survive, we wanted to take the time to spotlight the only way any of us can really thrive; through loving and honoring ourselves. As a staff we were excited to choose self-love as our theme and as submissions came in we were blown away by the power behind words of self-love.
While considered by many to be a “buzzword”, self-love is for everyone. That aspect of this concept is what caught our team’s eye. After having put together editions last summer and fall that showcased work by Black creatives, we were applauded but also challenged by the feedback, feedback which, frankly, wondered if this spurt of inclusivity was more performative than genuine. As a journal that’s based on a minority serving college campus, we wanted to prove our dedication and commitment to the fight and to the amplification of the voices of those who are often marginalized. Along this same thread, we also wanted to make it clear that while self-love is often commoditized in the present day as this always positive and upbeat journey (think social media influencers), it was important to us to word our call in a way that welcomed the real and valid struggle that those working to feel truly comfortable with themselves can sometimes face. It’s not all poetry and rainbows and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of pieces that acknowledged and ran with that idea.
Art and literature are becoming more and more inclusive everyday. Those in marginalized communities, whether that be via an ethnic group or the LGBTQIA+ community, are working to share their experiences, both good and bad. This speaking out helps the audience and the creative in their respective healing processes, and, after the whirlwind of a year we as a society are still clawing our way out of, we at Penumbra Online wanted to use our platform in a way that honors and contributes to that movement. All voices are valid and deserve to be heard, and we hope that the pieces in this summer’s edition will help some of you work towards the necessary level of healing for you.
Autumn Andersen and Bobbi Solano
Jessica Charest is an editor for Penumbra Online, as well as the Summer and Fall 2021 Penumbra Social Media Manager. She graduated with her M.A. in Literature from Stan State in Spring 2020.