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UNC student-run publications see year punctuated by creativity

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Photo Courtesy of Pixeden

Editors and writers of student publications, old and new, spent the year writing, revising and publishing content. 

Across disciplines and styles, from poetry to visual art to essays, these organizations publish on varying schedules, often once a semester or yearly. 

Cellar Door, UNC’s oldest undergraduate literary journal, publishes each spring. This year, the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary. It accepts submissions of art, poetry, creative nonfiction and fiction from undergraduate students of any major. 

The 2022-23 print edition theme focused on the corporeal, the idea of lived experiences captured through bodies and physical imagery, Editor-in-Chief Abigail Welch said.

“It takes you through almost a meditative thought process of how you conceive your body and space, how you feel breath entering your lungs and exhaling,” she said. “Almost a very meditative, grounding sort of experience, in a way.”

The journal receives approximately 30 to 50 prose and 80 to 120 poetry submissions each year. They also accept online pieces, including reviews and interviews with writers and artists, which are also published in the spring. 

Each of the journal’s genres has an editor with a team of readers who help choose pieces based on criteria like artistic quality, length and content. 

Once the pieces are narrowed down, the editors discuss how the works relate to each other and create the theme. Judges — typically writers, professors and artists — read them and determine first, second and third place winners from the selected pieces. 

In May, Cellar Door celebrated the magazine's release and hung its featured artwork in the Student Union Art Gallery. There was also a gallery walk that displayed many of the magazine’s covers throughout the years, which are kept in the Wilson Library archives. 

“It was really cool to see the longevity of the magazine and see the people who came out to see the artwork that was published in the magazine and see all the previous covers for it,” Welch said. 

The Health Humanities Journal of UNC-Chapel Hill publishes various genres of writing, including poetry, personal narratives and opinion pieces related to human experiences within healthcare and the medical sciences, twice a year. Undergraduate and graduate students or faculty members from any institution can submit their work. 

Editor-in-Chief Ryan Phillips said the journal is a reminder of the importance and presence of health, especially through a literary lens. 

“I’m reminded that every person in this world is associated with the health humanities in some way and that it’s not just something for STEM students or pre-health students to know about or pay attention to,” he said. 

The journal receives approximately 40 submissions each semester. When selecting pieces for publication, the staff considers factors such as writing quality and how related the piece is to the health humanities. Like Cellar Door, they determine the theme for each edition after they choose the accepted pieces. 

The fall edition of the journal came out in November and centered on “protection, care and support above all,” Phillips said. It features works on various topics, including experiences as patients and race and gender in the medical world. 

Naomi Ovrutskya senior majoring in astrophysics with a minor in creative writing, is the editor-in-chief of “ORLANDO,” a single-issue print zine featuring the work of queer poets. 

“ORLANDO” started as a final project for Ovrutsky's English 490: Creative Writing Special Topics class

The title is inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novel of the same name, in which the main character, Orlando, transitions from male to female. Ovrutsky said the novel is a meditation on gender and sexuality — the overarching theme of her zine. 

She called for submissions on social media in November and received 50 from poets of different ages, places, cultural backgrounds and education levels. Ovrutsky and the editorial staff accepted nine poems that captured the queer experience. 

“It’s such a variety of people, which I think really represents the queer community I was going for,” she said. "I'm excited for people to read it."

Print copies of “ORLANDO” will be available this week in Greenlaw Hall, Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews and around campus.

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The Health Humanities Journal can be found in boxes around campus and on the journal's website.

@milaaamascenik

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