South Carolina Literary Magazine Flourishes 49 Years Strong
After coming to Clemson in 1996, Keith Morris started his career at the University in the English department teaching journalism. At the time, Morris was also publishing his work as a fiction writer. This led him to an internal promotion, and he moved to teach creative writing in 2000, where he has been ever since.
While completing his master’s in fine art, Morris was an editor for The Greensboro Review, where he became familiar with the editing and publishing process. Morris credits this opportunity for giving him the knowledge and experience needed to help The South Carolina Review run smoothly.
The South Carolina Review (SCR), a literary compilation of short stories and poems founded in 1968, originated at Furman University. It officially moved to Clemson in 1973. In 2017, Morris connected with the publication and became fiction editor.
Today, Morris’ team includes the poetry editor, Stevie Edwards; the fiction editor, Nic Brown; the managing editor and one of Morris’ previous students, Elizabeth Stansell; and around 10 students, both undergraduate and graduate.
The team of students is divided into two groups, those who are joining for their first semester and returning students.
“Students can be on the staff twice for credit. Second-semester students already know what they are doing. They started this semester finalizing the Spring issue. The new people coming in spend that time going through a training period,” Morris explained.
Starting on the team, students learn the ins and outs of what goes into a literary magazine. They discuss topics such as manuscript selection and why certain stories and poems would not make publication. The students conduct internal discussions, practice selections then learn and practice the editing process.
The students also work with Stansell, who teaches them how to properly layout stories and poems with InDesign. She gives the students a hands-on tutorial on how to take the work they have selected and fit them into the SCR template.
The team produces two issues per year. This semester, once the Spring edition was finalized and the first semester students learned selection and editing skills, the students came together to start the process for the Fall 2022 edition.
Poets and writers from all over the globe submit their work to the team to be considered for the magazine.
“Elizabeth reached out to me the semester before I was supposed to start, Spring of 2017, and we had to scramble around and find authors we knew personally,” Morris explained. “That first issue was put together and we had practically zero submissions.”
Since that edition, the publication has grown immensely, and the team now receives over a thousand submissions per issue.
“We only accept submissions for about two to three months and we are getting that many,” Morris stated.
The team also had editors around the country, many former Clemson students working toward their master’s of fine art, to help narrow down those submissions to around 30 poems and 20 stories.
This list of about 50 pieces of literature then goes to the team of students. The students are tasked with reading each of the pieces of work and come together to debate which ones they feel are worth publishing.
“Things can get heated sometimes. Everyone has their favorites,” Morris said. Through discussion, the students must come together and agree on what gets to be in the magazine.
After selections, each student is assigned around one story and two poems to bring through the copy editing process. This process ensures there are no typos, all factual information within the works is checked and the format is revised to ensure it fits the house style guide before putting it into the InDesign template. Students also have to keep up communication with the writers of their assigned work.
The team also decides the magazine’s cover art. The team is given a collection of artwork to choose from, all created by students within Clemson’s Art Department.
The students involved really enjoy being a part of the publication and many come back for a second semester.
“We love when we get returning students,” Stansell said. “It’s really valuable.”
The returning students this semester have had a significant impact on the team. Two of the returning undergraduate students have maintained the website, a job usually held by a graduate student.
“Students have found it invaluable as far as seeing the behind the scenes and what goes into the selection process, what literary magazines are looking for and what is attractive to them,” Stansell said. “Along with this, getting the experience with InDesign. Even if students don’t think they will need or want it in the future. A couple [students] have come and said the ability to put it on their resume and say they understand templates and design was beneficial.”
Morris and Stansell enjoy working with the students and the publication.
“I personally really enjoy the layout process, and I like to transfer that over to the students and alert them to things they haven’t thought about before,” explained Stansell.
Morris likes watching students become invested in the magazine and excited that they have a say in what gets published. “It’s different when you are in a literature class and you are reading something that has already been published and everybody knows it’s great or you’re told it’s great,” Morris said. “I love seeing them learn how to rely on their own critical abilities and watching their enthusiasm grow.”
For the future, Morris and Stansell hope that The South Carolina Review will grow in popularity and gain more attention from the public. The team has started to submit the magazine for awards and hopes that one of their stories will be selected.
“I hope to see us in Best American Short Stories and Best American Poetry,” Morris said. “We have already been chosen three or four times by a big website called Verse Daily who only posts one poem a day.”
The team has had joy in seeing the up-and-coming writers first published in The South Carolina Review now start to publish their work with major publishers. Morris explained how he hopes to continue to promote these authors, gain the attention of major writers and even make it to the shelves of Barnes and Nobles.
“We want to put out a magazine that authors want to contribute to, that libraries want to subscribe to and that’s going to be noticed by annual awards and anthologies and provide a great experience for the students while giving the English Department and the university a refined literary magazine.”
If students of junior or senior standing are interested in joining The South Carolina Review team, email Keith Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is recommended that students have taken an upper-level creative writing course and have basic knowledge of writing and reading literature.
The Spring edition of The South Carolina Review is planned for release this month! If you are interested in subscribing to the magazine you can visit the website at https://www.clemson.edu/caah/sites/south-carolina-review/index.html
Written by: Gabrielle White