W&L Students Initiate Spanish Language Creative Writing Magazine

The staff of Pluma

Left to right: Victoria Blackstone '15, Andrea Siso '15, Evelyn Rupert '14, Austin Pierce '15. Not pictured: Cruz Mayol '16

When Victoria Blackstone, a junior psychology and Spanish double major at Washington and Lee University, was looking for an opportunity to write creatively in Spanish, she discovered she was not alone. Ellen Mayock, the Ernest Williams II Professor of Spanish at W&L, informed her that several other students had floated the same idea. Thus was born the new Spanish literary magazine "Pluma," with the first issue due March 31. The deadline for submissions for the first issue was Feb. 24.

Blackstone is the editor-in-chief and is joined in the editorial committee by W&L senior Evelyn Rupert, a journalism and Spanish double major, junior Austin Pierce, a philosophy major, junior Andrea Siso, a romance languages major with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean studies and sophomore Juan Cruz Mayol.

Mayock and Ivelise Faundez-Reitsma, visiting assistant professor of Spanish at W&L, are also on the editorial committee for the magazine.

Publication will be two or three times a year and will initially be online. "Publishing online is really nice because it's a flexible format that allows us to adapt to whatever creative input we have," explained Blackstone. "Once we have a more solid foundation we're hoping to branch into a physical copy."

According to Blackstone, the editorial committee is looking for submissions that will bridge the gap between what it is to speak Spanish and what it is to express oneself creatively. "I definitely found in my own creative work that the things I want to say in Spanish are very different from the things I want to say in English," said Blackstone. "This is not an equivalent literary publication that just happens to be in Spanish. It's a completely different perspective on things and provides an outlet to explore the other side of culture that can only be expressed in Spanish."

The committee has received submissions of poetry, prose and 10-minute plays, up to 1,500 words, from the W&L campus as well as from alumni. It is also accepting any form of artwork for illustrations and people have already shown significant interest in the cultural artwork fundamental to Hispanic culture.

Mayock pointed out that the students' desire for more creative writing outlets in Spanish has encouraged the department to design an upper-level creative writing workshop. "The course has eight very talented students who have already done literary translations and written 10-minute plays in Spanish. We've now moved onto our poetry unit," said Mayock.

In addition to drawing on the Spanish department at W&L, the editorial committee is planning a broad outreach into different sectors of the community, including Virginia Military Institute, the Rockbridge County high school and Southern Virginia University.

Mayock said that "Pluma" arises from a growing interest across campus in the creative arts, from Romance Languages Poetry night to the English department's creative writing program to Wilson Hall's activities and beyond. "This magazine promises to be an ample creative space for Spanish speakers and readers interested in high-quality literary and artistic works based in themes of the Spanish-speaking world," she said.

Faundez-Reitsma added that "Pluma" is set to become "a meeting point for lovers of Hispanic culture and language in the Shenandoah region. There is an underlying philosophy to all Hispanic culture, best expressed by the quintessential phrase 'Mi casa es su casa' (my home is your home). There are scarcely better words to portray the communal vision grounding the "Pluma" project."

The website for "Pluma," which is a work in progress, is http://pluma.academic.wlu.edu/

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