By Taylor Patterson
Elm Staff Writer
Entwining myth-making and truth-telling, Cherry Tree, a national literary journal based at Washington College, releases its latest issue today.
Their fourth issue is the largest yet, with a total of 253 pages and 35 contributors.
“Any journal is a way of creating dialogue through art, and it is exciting to have our students helping to craft these conversations. Cherry Tree is dedicated to advocating for the arts, and for young artists,” said Dr. James Allen Hall, Cherry Tree’s editor-in-chief.
As a journal that is partnered with a liberal arts college, Dr. Hall, associate professor of English and director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, and Lindsay Lusby, managing editor of Cherry Tree and assistant director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, see the journal as an extension of that tradition. The works exemplify the goal of the liberal arts but connect different aspects of life with a throughline or a narrative arch, according to the editors.
“The thing that excites me the most about Cherry Tree is how it allows students to participate in the national scope of literature. This past issue, eight current WC students served as screeners for the journal in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and literary shade—a section we started that speaks back to oppressive cultural structures,” Dr. Hall said.
These student screeners are trained through the Literary Editing and Publishing course, where they gain the “invaluable experience in seeing what goes into the making of an award-winning literary journal,” Dr. Hall said.
Through the class, students are trained to read and analyze submissions based on the submission guidelines and aesthetics. Dr. Hall said he hopes to have as many as 15 students working as screeners for Issue Five.
Senior Casey Williams said that screening was a massive help to her own writing.
“Having to read through such a huge variety of works and then needing to figure out what was working and what wasn’t, along with how well each piece could live on the pages of Cherry Tree, forced me to think in a way that normally doesn’t happen in a casual reading setting, or even a classroom,” she said. “[Screening] also put into perspective how competitive the world of literature can be. Each fiction reader was responsible for about a hundred submissions, and the fact that we could only take about five to 10 of those stories was a humbling experience.”
The screeners, senior readers, and genre editors each receive copies of the issue for their work.
Through grants, the journal has been able to redistribute funds to allow for the budget to pay contributors. In addition to the $20 they receive for their work, contributors are sent two copies of the issue. Dr. Hall said that in the future, he hopes to increase the amount of money given to contributors.
“I feel that, with each new issue, Cherry Tree and its editorial team are hitting their stride more and more. I love every issue we’ve produced in the last four years, and still each new issue is even better than the one before,” Lusby said. “In Issue Four, I especially feel that our still-new Literary Shade section is coming into its own. With its palpable sense of forward momentum, I truly can’t wait to see what Cherry Tree’s next issue brings.”