SUNY Oswego’s student-run literary magazine, the Great Lake Review, is getting ready for the biannual release party for its newest edition at The River’s End Bookstore on Thursday, May 6. 

The magazine, which consists of a collection of student-submitted art, screenplays, fiction and nonfiction writing as well as poetry, will have published student artists and writers speak at the party, which will also include raffles and giveaways for goods like gift cards and Great Lake Review merchandise. 

The club always encourages those who submit work to consider focusing on a unique underlying theme that is chosen by staff before each edition. For this edition, the staff chose the theme “Wither.”

The staff said that their decision to choose “wither” as the theme for submissions was based on the feelings that many Lakers are dealing with amid a still-present COVID-19 pandemic and all the other stressors that college students must handle. 

Why 'wither'?

“It’s just a lot of burnout from being in survival mode from the pandemic for so long,” said Nirdishtha Sapkota, the organization’s public relations coordinator. “We are a little bit withered out, so why not ‘wither’?” 

Although the magazine’s theme is important and directs much of the submitted art and writing, it is not a requirement. That said, Sapkota said they still expect the edition to match its theme title. 

“Our themes are just highly encouraged,” said Sapkota. “We do have quite a few pieces, I would say, that do seem more on the sad side, and I feel like that’s a pretty common theme because in writing and art in general, whenever someone’s creating something I feel like we tap more into our emotions that we feel the most or feel the most strongly about, and negative emotions whether it’s sadness or anger or betrayal are usually very strong emotions.” 

The club’s managerial editor, Kiley Kerns, said that while she also believes that the magazine tends to be gloomy, that it is not the most important factor of choosing submissions even with such a grim theme.

“I think that every single edition has a certain angst to it because we’re writers and artists and I feel like that is common,” said Kerns. “But, I don’t think it’s all as dreary as the word ‘wither’ may be taken. Because when we are going through the selection process, we do keep in mind the theme, but if it’s a really beautiful story about something extremely happy, the theme of wither doesn’t really matter.”

Longstanding tradition

Ahead of the magazine’s 92nd release, members of its organization expressed their happiness with continuing the tradition that has been going since 1974, and indicated that they hope to further honor past members and their editions directly.

“It’s so exciting,” said Kerns. “We’ve been talking about communicating with the alumni a lot more, and inviting them to the release parties and collaborating with them and talking about their editions, their favorite stories.”

The organization has long held its release parties at The River’s End Bookstore, on the corner of West First and Bridge streets in downtown Oswego, a fact that they credit to the bookstore’s staff and atmosphere. 

“The people who own the bookstore, they are so sweet. They have never made us feel like we are not a part of the family, and every time we walk in there, they know exactly who we are,” said Sapkota. “They are a very welcoming space, and because we’re both about creative writing, I guess because they sell the books and we are creating a book, it just seemed like a natural marriage between the two worlds.” 

Along with the value of exposing Oswego students’ art to the community at large, club members emphasized the importance of having work published for career readiness purposes. 

“Professors specifically were like, ‘if you get published, this is a real publish,’” said Kerns. “You know, you could put that on your resume and your CV, it looks really good to be a published author.”

The release party starts at 7 p.m. Thursday evening, and is open to all. For more information on the event, visit Great Lake Review’s website or Instagram page.

–- Written by Collin Knapp of the Class of 2023