Student publication ‘riverrun’ shifts focus under new leadership

Luci Schwarz 

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     Leading into its 49th volume, UCCS’ student-run literary and arts journal “riverrun” and its corresponding course will be headed by English professor Chris Martin.  

     For the last 40 years, the publication has showcased student art, poetry, fiction and nonfiction within its pages. “riverrun” originally started as a club but shifted to become a course, which helped to ensure annual releases of the journal.  

     UCCS English Department Chair Kirsten Ortega previously taught the “riverrun” course and helped organize the publication for the last six years. The journal originally began in 1971 under C. Kenneth Pellow, a retired professor of English.  

     Martin hopes to bring a new perspective to the process of Volume 49, while still respecting the work of those who came before him.  

     “I wonder what the values of authorship mean in the first place, and if it can mean more than just achievement,” Martin said.  

     Martin spoke about turning the book into more than just a physical placeholder that carries the work of the authors, by also celebrating the work that goes into making it.  

     In past years, the class would split into separate committees who would be in charge of reviewing certain categories of works. These sections included, but were not always limited to, art, poetry, fiction, nonfiction and social media. 

     The beginning of the spring semester would see the class working as a whole to learn the principles of design and how to properly create a journal. Following that, they would vote on a cover design and then be split up into the aforementioned committees where they would review submissions according to rubrics they established. The last bit of the semester focused on editing and distributing the journal, as well as learning how to publish works of their own. 

     Martin thinks that the division of these committees could remain relatively the same, if students decide that they would like to work through the submissions that way. Because the class will be in-person, he hopes they can take the opportunity to involve the rest of the campus. 

     Different from previous semesters, the class will focus on Mexican concept artist Ulises Carrión, who uses the art of making books in their work. Topics will include page design, theft and piracy, the spiritual life of letterforms, publishing versus privishing, and more, all derived from this focus. Several of these concepts have been covered in past semesters but without the emphasis on a particular artist, which will add a new point of view.  

     Two guest speakers will also visit the class: Aaron Cohick, who has professional experience in publishing, and Aditi Machado, a published poet. 

     Martin is contemplating the idea of holding an event where students work on a piece and submit it right away for publication. He thought it might be interesting to see how this would change submissions, as the students would not have months to refine their writing before sending it in for review. 

     Submissions for “riverrun” will be due Feb. 1, 2022.  

     “You should submit because it starts conversations with people,” Martin said. “The works circulate and build a community.”  

     For students interested in the editorial side of the journal, the class is available for Spring 2022 enrollment under the category ENGL 3170. For more information on how to enroll, submit work or read past editions, see the “riverrun” website

Promotional image from the riverrun website.