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30 North (Review)

Natalie Chamberlain

Susquehanna University

2023


30 North is North Central College’s annual undergraduate print journal. The publication accepts submissions of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, photography, digital art, drawings, and paintings. 30 North also publishes online content such as author interviews and reviews. The journal was jointly founded by North Central College’s Writer’s Club and English Honors Society Sigma Tau Delta in 1936 as “The Cardinal”. Originally, the publication was open to submissions from any writer. “The Cardinal” became “The North Central Review” in 1995, and in 2005 limited its submissions to undergraduates only. The journal changed to its current name in 2015.

30 North’s most recent volume, Volume #17, was released in 2021 and is fully online as

a result of the pandemic. The pieces included in the volume are separated by genre (the sections included in this edition are Art, Creative Non-Fiction, Fiction, and Poetry). The cover of the volume is simple and elegant, with warm orange and red lines forming a floral design that covers the majority of the page. A short description of the cover explains how the illustration was created to honor loss but celebrate what is to come. The flowers on the cover reference this idea of new growth and rebirth. Each piece within the volume also stays true to this theme.

The creative non-fiction pieces within 30 North encapsulate both the mourning and acceptance that can accompany a memory. In the Peripheral by Allison Cummins recounts the narrator’s relationship with her father, switching between commentary on a plaque that her father hung up in their house to a memory of her dad at a softball game. This story acknowledges the author’s loss of familiarity after moving away from her old house but explains how the words on her father’s plaque have cemented in her brain and paved the way for new beginnings in her life.

A fiction submission that stood out with its detailed storytelling and dark take on the journal’s theme was The Same by Gelaine Vestal. The narrator of this story is a girl, Isabelle, who has a twin sister, Patricia. Isabelle and Patricia use a stuffed bunny each day to decide who is allowed to talk and make decisions for the both of them. On this particular day, Patricia had the bunny. This was never a problem for Isabelle before as she and Patricia agreed on everything. On this day, however, Patricia decides to force Isabelle to help her sneak their baby sister out of the house to a well outside, into which Patricia attempts to drop the baby. The narrator catches the baby before she can fall down the well, throwing the stuffed bunny down instead. The story ends with Patricia screaming and crying while the baby smiles. This piece touches on the journal’s recurring theme of loss through the narrator’s severed bond and game with her twin but approaches the idea of a new relationship and love for the baby sister.

Each poem within this volume was artistically crafted and created a careful portrayal of mixed emotions. 2:00a.m. Forever by Allison Blythe describes a feeling of future loss and remembrance. The narrator paints the scene of a quiet room and a person writing. The author laments their parting with this unknown person, although it has not happened yet. Despite the melancholy tone of the poem, there is a hint of beauty in the writer’s description of this lost relationship. They leave open the idea that they may meet this person again. It is a stunning piece that uses warm language to detail the emotions behind parting with someone dear and holding hidden memories.

Although 30 North is not currently accepting submissions, their digital volume was masterfully arranged and reflected the feelings of nostalgia, anger, confusion, and acceptance that surrounded our world in the face of the pandemic. The journal gives a voice to a plethora of undergraduate authors from all over the country and includes a link to the biographies of each author. With a focused mission, the contribution of skillful staff and writers, and a passion for putting creative, relatable, and thoughtful work out into the world, 30 North remains a distinguished literary journal for undergraduates who wish to tell their stories.

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