The Roanoke Review brings together creativity from students and faculty

The annual national journal publishes poems and short fiction every spring.

"The best thing I get to do is interact with students at a professional level," said Dr. Paul Hanstedt, Associate Professor of English. "I see these students at their best."

Hanstedt, along with four Roanoke College students and alumnus, work together to create The Roanoke Review, an annual national journal which publishes poems and short fiction every spring. The Roanoke Review was established in 1967 by Henry Taylor, who was a past Roanoke College English professor and Pulitzer Prize recipient.

Duncan Bird '08, Betsy Vespa '08, Trista Wilkins '08 and Lacy McClure '07 all have joined Hanstedt in putting together this year's journal. Their main task is to read through the submissions and comment on the highlights of each piece of work. Managing editor for this year's edition is Joanna Hertzog '08, who also was the former editor of the school's newspaper, the Brackety-Ack, in 2006. Hertzog is responsible for making submission packets for all the readers, keeping track of much of the paperwork, taking notes at meetings, sending letters of rejection or acceptance to authors and reading all submissions. The group meets at Mac and Bob's once a month to go over all read submissions. Hanstedt and his group pride themselves on their hard work and dedication to the project. The group also is confident that the authors who are highlighted in the journal are readable, instead of obscure.

"A lot of the reading out there is so esoteric," Hanstedt said. "We make a good journal that the average person would want to read. It's not too artsy; it's put together."

Hanstedt also said that he is grateful to be able to interact with students outside of class and train them as writers and editors for the real world. Many of the students who worked with Hanstedt on The Roanoke Review have gone on to become editors of magazines and journals all over the country. The current students in Hanstedt's group also are interested in writing. After their experience with The Roanoke Review, many feel that they have a better understanding of how to get their own work published.

"I plan on writing actively and entering fiction into literary contests, so The Roanoke Review has helped me understand how a literary journal works from the inside, such as what kinds of submissions are chosen and why," Bird said. "I know I will have an upper-hand because of my experience."

McClure also has gained much from her experience with the journal, which has helped her improve her writing.

"I am an aspiring writer, so I gained insight into the process of publishing after the point of submission," McClure said. "I can also use this experience on a resume as far as working with a team, juggling responsibility and time management, as well as re-enforcement of my ability and knowledge of crafting poetry and fiction."

Hanstedt said that the great thing about reading so many authors' work is that it teaches a writer that they cannot be self- absorbed in their writing; one must think about all audiences when creating a work.

"You can have a gloomy day and write something very melancholy and think it is great," Hanstedt said, "but you can't be that self-absorbed when writing. I have learned a lot about craft and what the audience wants to read because I have read so many submissions. I've learned what intrigues readers."

The students also are very impressed with Hanstedt's guidance throughout the project, and look up to him for his own writing abilities.

"Dr. Hanstedt is an expert, as far as I am concerned, of fiction writing," McClure said. "I also had the privilege of being his student in his writing fiction class. He was always on task, very professional and on the academic level. His guidance shaped my perception of fiction and my work ethic throughout the project."

Bird views Hanstedt on a more social level, stating that he desires to emulate the professor's work ethic and character in his own future.

"He is a great leader and has a sense of humor, understanding and honesty that makes everyone around him feel comfortable," Birds said. "He is a truly inspirational man, and his guidance has taught me diligence, focus and patience. In a way, I aspire to be like him. I just hope I can maintain a full head of hair while doing it," Bird said jokingly.

Hanstedt also said that he enjoys working for The Roanoke Review because it helps him improve his own writing. The group feels very fortunate to be part of the journal's transformation because they are able to pick up on skills that they may not have if it were not for their experience with the journal.

"My favorite aspect of the project must have been reading so many different perspectives on the submissions, the ones that made me think about my own writing, but I also enjoyed the creative submissions that didn't quite make it," Bird said. "It's good to know that people are still experimenting with literature."


About the Author

Laura Scuffins '09 was an English major who interned in the Office of Public Relations. She was editor of the campus newspaper, The Brackety-Ack, and a member of Chi Omega sorority. Laura also was a member of Roanoke's track team for 3 years.