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A Journal for Budding Artists and Writers

Story by
Nancy Joseph

Looking for some intriguing summer reading? Here's a hot tip: Bricolage.

Now in its sixteenth edition, Bricolage is a literary journal produced by undergraduates in the UW Department of English. It offers an eclectic mix of poetry, fiction, essays, and artwork contributed by University students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Bricolage staff, including Managing Editor Christy Martin (standing, center), do some last minute editing. Professor McNamara (far left), an adviser to the group, pitches in

Bricolage staff, including Managing Editor Christy Martin (standing, center), do some last minute editing. Professor McNamara (far left), an adviser to the group, pitches in. Media credit: Mary Levin

For those submitting to Bricolage, the journal--which is funded through contributions--offers an opportunity to be published. For Bricolage staff, the project provides invaluable hands-on publishing experience.

"I'm really impressed with what the students are able to accomplish," says Robert McNamara, lecturer in the Interdisciplinary Writing Program and an adviser to the group along with Sara Caka. "They run a really good magazine, and they do it on their own. And 30 contributors get a chance to see themselves in print--a first for a lot of them."

This year more than 300 works were submitted for consideration. The Bricolage staff carefully reviewed them all. "There's quite a variety of material," says managing editor Christy Martin, a senior majoring in English and Spanish. "I think that's part of what makes it fun, and I think that's what people who read Bricolage are looking for. The review process is tedious but entertaining too. It's a nice break from schoolwork."

To review submissions, Bricolage's staff of 16 breaks into smaller groups--one reviewing poetry, another reviewing fiction. Each staff member reads through all of the entries once, jotting brief notes. Then they meet as a group several times to discuss the submissions. "It can take people a while to get a sense of the quality and variety of entries," says Martin. "For some, it's their first time reviewing submissions like this."

This year's contributions range from the lighthearted--including "Hot Wing Odes," by a student working in a restaurant that serves hot chicken wings--to more serious fare. Some contributors are creative writing students, but many hail from other departments such as zoology, business, art history, Germanics, psychology, and electrical engineering.

During the review process, the submissions are handled anonymously. It's only after the works are selected that the staff learns the authors' names and backgrounds. "There are some obviously talented individuals," says Deniz Perin, this year's poetry editor. "One student submitted three poems and all of them were selected. Another student wrote a sestina--a very strict form of poetry that's hard to do well--and really pulled it off. I was very impressed by that."

Perin, a creative writing major, knows how it feels to be published in Bricolage. Her own work was selected for the 1997 edition. She decided to switch from contributor to staff member in 1998 (Bricolage staff cannot submit material) "out of curiosity," she says. "I thought it would be neat to read all the different submissions. I wanted to see what other writers were doing." She enjoyed the work so much that she agreed to serve as poetry editor this year. "It gives me an opportunity to be constantly working toward the cause of poetry," she explains.

The 1999 edition of Bricolage was off the presses in late May, and--as in past years--the event was celebrated with a reading at the University Book Store. Now all that the journal's staff and contributors need to do is pour some iced tea, put up their feet, and enjoy reading Bricolage this summer--along with the rest of us.