Lauren Eckenroad (left) discusses layout and design of this year's issue of The Phoenix with editor Naomi Scoville. A release party in the Common Grounds Coffee House will be Tuesday, April 19, at 7 p.m. Scoville has edited two issues of the journal. She plans to graduate in December 2016 and then teach in Peru. (Photo by Joaquin Sosa)

Two-time editor continues The Phoenix’s legacy, since 1958, of showcasing EMU community’s creative works

Eastern Mennonite University senior Naomi Scoville says it’s an honor to be entrusted with people’s “babies”— their literary and artistic offspring, in this case. As a two-time editor of EMU’s literary and visual arts journal, The Phoenix, Scoville collects poetry, short fiction pieces, photographs and illustrations from students for each year’s issue and works with other staff members to decide what to include.

Campus Canvas Fun Run-Andrea Cable-inset
Selected work from The Phoenix: “Campus Canvas Fun Run,” a photo by Andrea Cable.

“We appreciate each and every person who submits pieces to us,” says Scoville, an English and Writing Studies double major from Cuba, New York, with minors in TESOL and Spanish. “It takes a lot of courage to send your creations into the light of day.”

That light will shine on this year’s edition on April 19, when The Phoenix rolls out its 2016 issue at a release party in the Common Grounds Coffee House at 7 p.m. It continues a legacy of six decades for the publication, which first appeared in 1958.

Scoville hopes the journal will move to biannual publication starting in 2016-2017, with fall and spring issues. A new class will give students one semester hour of credit for 40 hours of work on the journal.

Empty Suit-Joshua Curtis-inset
Selected work from The Phoenix: “Empty Suit,” pen and ink, by Joshua Curtis.

“Working with The Phoenix has been a learning process,” Scoville says. “Last year I came into the position of editor without any previous experience working on a literary arts journal. I had to learn on the job and learn quickly. It was challenging at times, but this year, I was able to take all of my knowledge from last year and put it toward making the publication process flow more smoothly and efficiently.”

The Phoenix advisor Kevin Seidel, an associate professor in the Language and Literature Department, says Scoville has brought many gifts to the position.

“Naomi brings a rare combination of tenacity and patience,” Seidel says. “She’s tenacious in reaching out to the people involved, emailing, doing what she needs to do to set submission and production deadlines, organizing the work, matching people to the tasks that need to be done—all that. But she’s also patient with people and patient when things don’t go exactly according to plan.

“There’s always more to be done to get The Phoenix to press than any one person can do,” he adds. “So the main editor has to be good at delegating and coordinating efforts among the staff. Naomi is good at both of those things.”

Seidel says many of the students who have worked on the journal in recent years have brought good ideas for additions and improvements, such as including music and video in an online version, making it multilingual, including some longer pieces and organizing issues around a timely theme. He hopes the shift to a larger staff working together for two full semesters may help some of the ideas become reality.

Those possibilities are exciting, Scoville says.

“I wanted to be part of something that celebrates creativity in all its forms,” she says. “We are constantly striving to improve the quality of The Phoenix, to make it better and more visible on campus, and it’s been fun to brainstorm ways of doing that.”

In addition to Scoville, members of this year’s Phoenix staff include Lauren Eckenroad, layout and design; Lauren Sauder, finance manager; Carissa Luginbill, visual editor; Bethannie Parks, literary editor; Kevin Treichel and Amber Davis, general staff.