The Phoenix rises again, mid-quarantine

The sixty-third volume of The Phoenix is out – a 52-page collection of stories, artwork, and poetry cultivated from the Eastern Mennonite University community. Works featured in the annual publication range from breathtaking night sky photography to short stories with gut-wrenching plot twists. 

Student editors Anna Cahill, Anali North Martin, and Megan Good completed the booklet while quarantined the second half of the spring semester. 

“Most of the long work days, late nights, and hard conversations involved in putting together the Phoenix happen at the busiest time of the semester for students, right as final projects are coming due,” professor and advisor Kevin Seidel said. “Knowing a little about that behind the scenes work, I’m always impressed by the final product, but this year, with the campus scattered and under quarantine, it’s especially impressive the way the editors were able to get it done.”

A spread from the magazine. Photo by Isaac Alderfer. “Ghosts” by Caroline Lehman.

This issue includes 41 pieces from 27 students and faculty. Good, a writing studies major from Harrisonburg, said the three editors review all submissions with the creator’s name removed, so they can be evaluated without bias. After analyzing the pieces individually, the editors then try to come to a consensus about what to print.

“Sometimes we all agree about a piece, and sometimes we have to compromise with each other. We try to include work from a broad range of students without sacrificing the quality of the work, and we try to include no more than two or three submissions from each person,” Good said.

While the publication is available for viewing online now, the team also printed copies to send to the contributors and pass out when students return to campus.

“It is so satisfying to hold something beautiful and think, ‘I made this!’” Good said. In her first two years at EMU, she loved flipping through old Phoenix issues, and would tear out favorite pages to paste to her walls.

Martin, an English and writing studies major from Cary, North Carolina, enjoyed assembling the book with the software InDesign, “learning how to fit all the pieces together so that we do justice to the wonderful submissions we get. Seeing the final product is always so satisfying and well worth the work.”

Seidel said that, while he loves seeing poetry and visual art from the minds of EMU’s campus every year, “I’m especially grateful for this year’s issue. Reading it brings me a little closer to everyone involved—artists, editors, and readers—as if we’re in the same place together, sharing something at the same time.”