Mangrove is an undergraduate magazine that really is more than the sum of its parts, Mangrove takes its readers on a different literary journey with each new edition. With pieces brought together because of content rather than form, Mangrove breaks the mold set by many other more traditional undergraduate magazines. Mangrove is currently published at the University of Miami, the publish quality fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and more recently artwork and photography.
Interview conducted by Paul Barudin (Susquehanna University’13)
This might be something of a silly sounding question but why the title of Mangrove?
Somewhere in the area of 10-15 years ago Mangrove was a graduate student run journal at the University of Miami that published all kinds of submissions. It eventually disbanded, and then five years ago, when a group of undergraduate students at UM decided to start an undergrad-oriented literary journal, they kept the name. As to it’s origins beyond that I’m afraid to say I’m ignorant, but I know mangrove trees are a very prominent plant in southern Florida, especially as you head further south towards the keys.
Among undergraduate literary magazines, it is unique that a staff would choose to publish works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art/design all in one publication. What drove you to take the approach of accepting and showing these varied types of work?
By and large the current staff inherited the format of the journal as laid out by the founders, but the idea all along has been to feature the best creative work of the undergraduate community, regardless of genre. So far as the art is concerned however, we do stick primarily to static images, because, as you know, audio and video are pretty hard to put in print.
3) In Mangrove itself, the pieces are mixed, instead of being grouped together; poetry with poetry pieces, fiction with fiction pieces. What method do you choose to employ when creating each edition and why do you choose to spread out the work among an edition.
We try to put stories and poems together that complement each other in some way, whether it be in terms of voice, theme, style, etc. Obviously we are limited in some ways, like keeping two poems by the same author together, or putting the glossy art pages in the middle of the journal, but we try to put together a journal that can be read start to finish with something like a logic running through it, sort of like a music playlist. Ideally, each piece leads emotionally to the next in some way, and of course, you always want a strong piece to finish.
Are the editors of Mangrove selected or are they volunteers who are eventually brought on to work on each edition full time?
A little bit of both. We have an informal application process where staff and potential staff signal that they’re interested in various editorial positions, and the executive staff picks the editorial staff for the next school year. The executive staff itself is a little more planned, and we try to track it so that it’s understood that the associate editor will take over as the editor in chief the next year. But certainly no one works on the journal “full time;” everyone volunteers. The staff is made up of undergrads, MFAs, and two extraordinary faculty members. The core group of editors make sure everything gets done to send the issue to print on time, and that can some years feel like “full time,” but throughout the entire process we try to keep the whole staff is involved.
What do you think is the importance of displaying art in an otherwise literary focused magazine?
I think it’s very important is to give artistically inclined undergraduates a place to show their work in perhaps a different way they might have otherwise, but I also know a lot of poets and writers create visual art themselves, and are entirely outside the gallery showing scene, and this gives them a place to submit their work. It’s also nice so far as a journal is concerned to mix things up a little. I mean, everyone likes pictures, right?
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Anything with some combination of vanilla, chocolate, cookie dough, caramel, and/or strawberries. I try not to be too choosy though.
Strangest piece of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or art/design submitted?
I don’t know if it’s the absolute strangest, but one time we got a full-on academic paper, I believe submitted by an Iranian graduate student, about something to do with mangrove (tree) preservation and habitat. It wasn’t really our speed so far as nonfiction–we generally prefer the “creative” sort–but it was kind of cool to get both an international as well as a hard-core science paper submission.