In 1963, students and staff from the English department published the first literary journal at MSUM, named Convivo.
Fifty years and many changes later, Red Weather, MSUM’s current literary journal, is gearing up to celebrate 50 years of sharing the voices of MSUM students, alumni and faculty with its 32nd issue.
Dustin Mohagen, an MFA student in the creative writing program, is the managing editor for the next issue. He became involved with Red Weather when some of his poetry was published in the 2011 issue and was on staff as the poetry editor in 2012.
“(Red Weather) is an opportunity for emerging artists to see their work in print,” Mohagen said. “As students who are just entering the world of art, literary or otherwise, it can be daunting to know just where to start. If you are a part of this school, this is where you can start.”
Literary journal faces challenges
Initially published as Convivo from 1963 to 1969, the journal published literary and scholarly work. Later, editors decided to publish the journal solely as a creative-writing journal. In the spring of 1969, Knight Printing refused to typeset the journal because they deemed two included articles obscene.
A decision was made by the English department to cut the pieces and the journal was printed. According to Red Weather’s website, the student editors proceeded with printing, adding a disclaimer that read “We are asked to create cautiously, with one eye out for public disapproval, and a literary magazine such as Convivio cannot exist under such conditions … From our position, this expurgated issue will be the last …”
Other journals were published after that under the names The Fat Giraffe and Three Seasons and students also worked on a nationally distributed poetry journal Dacotah Territory.
Mark Vinz, a retired professor of English at MSUM, said he integrated the journal into the ENGL 495/595 class a few years before he retired in 2007, but had been involved with the journal for 27 years total. He said some of the biggest struggles he had to deal with were fundraising and finding volunteers to assist with the publication.
Mohagen echoes those concerns and also said Red Weather is no longer associated with an English class because they were unable to find a faculty adviser.
“They couldn’t find a faculty member to be the faculty adviser, so the class was no longer offered,” Mohagen said. “I was approached and informed that because of this, there may not be a Red Weather. I believe in what Red Weather represents, so I took responsibility for the 2013 issue, mostly because it is the 50th year since the first journal started and I felt that it was an important milestone to reach. Red Weather was not going to fade into obscurity if I could help it.”
Mohagen said that nowadays, the biggest obstacle for Red Weather is that people don’t know about it. Right now he is focusing his efforts to get the name out.
“I would like to do something special … to honor the milestone,” Mohagen said. “I would love to print in all color, but that is expensive.”
Mohagen said there is a donation page on the alumni web page if anyone is interested in donating to Red Weather.
“There have always been people who cared enough about it to volunteer their time and effort to see that a publication comes together,” Mohagen said.
Production process of Red Weather
Red Weather relies on submissions from students, alumni and faculty to compile the journal. Mohagen said that all submissions are judged blindly, meaning that all author or artist names are removed before the judging process.
After the submissions are judged and the pieces have been selected, all pieces are proof-read and the editing team designs the physical layout of the journal. Mohagen’s duties as managing editor are to get the word out about the upcoming issue, as well as put a staff together, screen submissions and work with the staff to edit the submissions to ensure a “beautiful, finished product” by the end of April.
Mohagen said that students and alumni send in most of the submissions, but faculty are also welcome to submit for publication.
Red Weather accepts submissions of poetry, prose and visual arts.
How to submit to Red Weather
To submit a piece to Red Weather, visit their website at web.mnstate.edu/redweather and go to the submit tab. There are submission guidelines and instructions about how to submit a piece. All submissions are due by Feb. 14.
Mohagen said that the process for this year’s issue is “only just beginning” and right now he is focusing on getting the word out for people to send in their submissions.
The 32nd issue of Red Weather will be out in late spring and will be available for about $10.
“Anyone who is or has ever been part of the MSUM community should consider submitting something to Red Weather,” Mohagen said. “It is a unique opportunity to be part of something bigger than yourself. To see your work in print, to hold a tangible book in your hand or display it on a shelf, to have something to point to as actual physical evidence of the worth of your work is priceless.”
BY KAYLA VAN EPS