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Wayne State editors bring creative writing to the world

In difficult times, reading can bring much-needed solace to the world. Members of the Department of English are involved in two editorial projects that help creative writers share their work with a broader audience: the Wayne Literary Review, a student-generated review coordinated by ML Liebler (Associate Professor of Teaching); Three Fold, a quarterly arts journal, whose poetry section is edited by Chris Tysh (associate professor of teaching) and The Woodward Review, a national literary journal edited by Isaac Pickell (Ph.D. candidate in English).

Featuring the work of writers from Wayne State and beyond respectively, these publications make important contributions to the university, the Detroit metro community, and the wider world by showing the perennial relevance of the arts.  

Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly that seeks to showcase “exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society,” and its issues have addressed such pressing topics as the pandemic, contemporary political discourses, gender issues, and war. Rebecca Mazzei, its founder and a cultural activist, invited Professor Tysh to serve as the poetry editor for this new venture. Each issue features around five poets, and Professor Tysh aims both to cultivate poetic community and to “showcase the best expression of what the lyric can do,” as she explained in a recent interview.

To accomplish these goals, Professor Tysh gathers work via curation rather than open submission: “My poetry section is curated, which means we don’t run an open submission call but instead solicit a number of writers who I believe will enrich the collective dialogue.” The process results in unexpected pairings and collisions, as with the first issue’s juxtaposition of the poetry of John Sinclair and Khaled Mattawa, who respectively document jazz musicians and Bedouin alams (chanted poems).  

The Wayne Literary Review (WLR) has been a mainstay of campus culture for around seventy years, and Professor Liebler has run it since 1984. Although the WLR has occasionally featured alumni and nationally known writers (including Anne Waldman, Ed Sanders, Amiri Baraka, and Jayne Cortez), it primarily publishes work by current students in a broad range of forms: creative nonfiction, fiction, plays, poetry, photography, and sketches.

As the coordinator of WLR, Professor Liebler makes sure that the journal adheres to its annual schedule, but he leaves all editorial decisions up to a team of student editors who post open calls, make editorial decisions about submissions, and edit accepted pieces. Professor Liebler believes wholeheartedly in this student-centered editorial process, stating in an interview that “As our creative writing program continues to grow at Wayne, I believe the WLR’s acclaim and readership will grow along with it.” Because Wayne State students control almost every aspect of the WLR, each issue has a unique point of view that reflects the changing times and student body. 

At the same time, these experiences allow the student editors of the WLR to gain important life skills that set them apart as they make their way into the working world after graduation. Carrie Paveglio (BA, 2020) served as the lead editor for the 2020 edition of the WLR, which allowed her to develop her talents as a leader and to learn how to curate art and poetry, a skill that requires empathy, an eye for detail, innovative thinking, and prowess as a creative writer. As the executive director at Olu & Company (which specializes in media relations for art, culture, design and social justice-focused clients), Ms. Paveglio uses these skills on a daily basis.

She explained in an interview that “Editing the review felt like a beautiful synthesis of the skills I picked up at Wayne and the work I was doing with Olu. I was able to put my curatorial eye and love for editing and writing into practice in a way that felt very meaningful. It felt like a perfect way to wrap up my time at Wayne State.” Editing the WLR was vital to Ms. Paveglio’s career after college, giving her a platform to gain key strategies for supporting creative communities at Wayne State and beyond. 

WSU English Ph.D. candidate Isaac Pickell set out to create a different kind of literary journal for Wayne State University, one that bridges the gap between academic writing and creative writing. After progress halted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was reinvigorated in 2021. Shortly after, The Woodward Review (TWR) released its premier issue in Spring 2022. TWR accepts national submissions of creative writing, art, or hybrid and digital media from artists from all walks of life. TWR facilitates the mutual exchange of creative ideas between artist and the audience by inviting WSU students and faculty to write reviews of and responses to the creative works published in TWR. This unique collaborative model for a literary journal allows for conversations between different creative works to happen between the issues, breaking down barriers between readers and writers to create beautiful and thoughtful pieces.

As Three Fold, WLR and TWR show, creative writing and poetry matter. The world needs the arts and creative minds: without them, we wouldn’t have our favorite movies, books, art, or songs. Creative writing helps share stories, but it also teaches empathy and love even as it helps us gain new perspectives on life. All of these things are essential for humanity. As Professor Tysh puts it, “If we repeat after W. H. Auden that ‘poetry makes nothing happen,’ we give in to the romance of the solitary writer and her solipsistic stance.

I prefer to think that poetry draws strength from the living speech surrounding us, as well as the complex archeology of discourse, politics, gender and moving images.  Poetry matters today because it is one of the ways in which we both speak/write the world and transform it as we write.” To see how these publications help transform the world, take a moment to dip into Three Fold, WLR and TWR. 

— Brieanna Garbin, with additional writing from Cheyanne Parker