Miracle Monocle perseveres and publishes its 14th issue amid pandemic

By Zoe Watkins–

In the need of new reading material during quarantine? The English department’s award-winning online literary journal “Miracle Monocle,” has just released its 14th issue after overcoming many setbacks.

“Miracle Monocle” publishes twice a year and brings together a wide array of literary work and visual art pieces. These are then handpicked by a student editorial staff led by faculty editor, Dr. Sarah Strickley.

Since there are over 500 submissions every issue, Strickley said that there is a selection process to pick what goes in the journal. During this process, the staff reads and responds to each individual submission.

“The pieces that gain the most positive attention in our submission management system process go to a second round of consideration. We then narrow down the picks from there. We also solicit pieces from writers and artists whose work we admire but those pieces represent only a fraction of our contributors overall,” Strickley said.

The latest 14th issue was a challenging one to publish. Strickley said that the COVID-19 pandemic caused many logistical challenges. For example, their weekly in-person meetings now took place over Zoom and communication among staff took place online using Outlook’s Teams function.

The staff also had to change dates for some future publications such as “Monster, which is the next installment in the print anthology series. It has been postponed until the fall semester.

Despite all of this, the staff still managed to put together a full issue, which Strickley described as truly beautiful.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we came in on deadline and I’m awed by the fact that four students wrote reviews of new books for Issue 14. Truly exceptional work,” she said.

Amy Dotson, a graduating senior with an English major and Creative Writing minor, served as an associate editor. Dotson said publishing the issue during a pandemic was strange. She said that the process of editing and coding pieces were the same, but there could not be a launch event for the issue.

However, Dotson explained that everyone worked hard on their own time to meet the deadline and gave praise to the work Strickley and assistant editor Adam Yeich put into the journal.

“It’s because of their tireless efforts that the journal is what it is. It’s a labor of love. And we all love it. So, we made it happen. Hopefully, this issue is a little ray of light for many in an otherwise dark time,” Dotson said.

She said her favorite part of making the issue was reading through all the submissions.

“People can send in some strange things, so going through submissions can be like winding a jack-in-the-box,” Dotson explained. “But that’s kind of what I love–how every time you open a new submission, you’re hoping it’s going to be the next incredible piece of work. And sometimes it is!”

Ashley Bittner, one of the two graduate editors for the “Miracle Monocle,” said going through the submissions was his favorite part as well, as they provided insight into a world that he has not seen or experienced yet.

“Papers come in from around the world, all writers with something to stay, and reading over it is very cosmopolitan,” Bittner said.

He said that his favorite pieces currently are Kendyl Harmeling’s “An Unbecoming End” and Emily Beck Cogburn’s “Crossing the River.”

Now with issue 14 released, Strickley described the end of this editorial cycle as bittersweet.

“I’m always excited to send a new issue into the world, but that also means that I’m graduating a staff, which is a real loss on both a personal and professional level. This time around that contradiction was even more pronounced for me,” she said.

Strickley said that they could have eased production or stopped altogether, but they persevered through it all.  She said that this semester had a moving outcome, however unusual and fraught it was.

“I want to thank my staff for renewing my faith in the project of the journal. It’s about bringing people together to celebrate art, right? In a time when we can’t occupy the same literal space, it’s more important than ever to come together in the realm of ideas. And that’s exactly what we’ve done,” Strickley said.

If you would like to check out the latest issue, go to http://louisville.edu/miraclemonocle.

File graphic// The Louisville Cardinal

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