review by shelby smith (susquehanna university ’12)
A free online literary magazine that boasts works of photography, fiction, music, essay, poetry, and art must have a catch. A quick glance at the table of contents tab on the website pushes doubt away, proving that the February 2012 edition of Student at Large Web Magazine is not too good to be true, and it is successful.
The site serves as a forum: a community bulletin board of interviews with emerging and recognizable musicians, impressive artwork and fresh, original poetry. Travel photography archives hold captured treasures of Europe, USA and Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa. The black and white photography of Maya Fiala especially evokes a sense of human urgency and yearning for self-expression in her images of beautiful Senegalese children. Faces dusted with gold dirt flecks stare into Fiala’s camera lens with wide eyes and sincere smiles.
Within the nonfiction category, an article titled “Is Fashion Colorblind?” by Kerry-Louise Barnaby asks if the Asian model is here to stay or a passing trend which speaks to the pressing need to address issues of racism, classism and sexism within the fashion industry. Citing current fashion bookings editor Megan McCluskie, Barnaby notes, “The exploration for why top designers don’t use black models is always that they don’t sell which seems unfair when black people are among the highest consumer spenders.” The piece serves as a necessary look into a world that ultimately affects every person who wears clothes. More typical forms of nonfiction and creative nonfiction are also included like personal essay and memoir. It was nice to see a fashion article submitted and included, however.
Interviews with well-known performers Blue Man Group, Noah and the Whale, Pretty Lights, and Reel Big Fish increase the authority of the student staff. With established bands and artists whose YouTube videos surpass millions of views and subscribers, music editors must be lauded for their proactive and gutsy spirits. After a perusal, Dinosaur Bones and artist Christopher Stalling are on the list of unfamiliar people to check out next, once current music haunts have overstayed their welcome.
Of the poets, Jillian Krupp stands out. With Baltimore as her muse, she eases non-Marylanders into a life near the harbor. Using slant rhyme, she further imbeds her sense of space and home with readers in a subtle way, leaving them wondering why they have a craving for old bay and vintage Orioles caps. She writes, “But in four years smells changed, ears had too. /They listened to a new place, making it familiar long enough for our white house to stop screaming at me, from the/ bottom of its hill just a mile down the road./I made the short drive down:/A house of windows, artistic lights, a Russian couple (did they wonder if people could look in and see them too?)/Extravagant, like my mother’s taste/Textured, like my father’s hair. /I had let it be forgotten. /The last months we’d been there:/All sticking to the checkered couch, authentic Italian, they’d spent a fortune, / On something woven together by someone’s small hands.” Krupp sinks in. She stays for a while.
The editors are all college students, and the founder, Tom Remp, is a 26-year-old graduate from Franklin Pierce University. An intriguing aspect of the website is the “Things We Like” page. Internet memes, online newspaper articles, Drinkify recommendations (a music genome project that pairs a song with a recipe for a similarly-toned mixed drink), and “You Know You were Raised in the ‘90s if…” lists live in one place.
The intern guide also makes it clear that a willingness to work with individualized needs and skills complements the magazines set expectations. Various positions such as marketing, recruiting, submissions, and social media have detailed job description blurbs that call for creative and empowered students. Any undergraduate editor would be ideal for one of these positions. Above all, Student at Large Web Magazine breathes to illuminate the 20-somethings, the college writers and artists, the meticulous eyes and ears. The submission process is easy to understand, with attention paid to varying text and image upload formats.
There is no catch.