Literary journals by two city colleges are drawing international entries from debutant and renowned writers too

Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts

It began in 2011 with a blog named Heart-Bytes. From poems and short stories in English and Malayalam to longer prose pieces, and even flash fiction, it was a space for expression where the imagination could run riot. Managed by the Writer’s Forum members at Sacred Heart College, Thevara, the blog eventually grew to include contests in poetry and fiction, which drew several international submissions as well.

The winning entries were then compiled to form the first edition of the Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts (LIJLA, February 2013). The journal’s second edition was published last month, and went on to win the runner-up prize at the Saboteur Award for Best Magazine (2013) in London. It is a bumper 400-page edition with contributions from over 40 countries.

LIJLA’s first edition has a short story by Hanif Kureishi, poetry by Meena Alexander, K. Satchidanandan and Sudeep Sen among other big names. The second edition has a special section on haiku edited by Alan Summers, General Secretary of the British Haiku Society. The international collaborations are the product of extensive networking online, says chief editor, and assistant professor of English, Jose Varghese. “It’s only because of social media that word about the magazine spread so far and such a varied team of writers and editors got on board.” LIJLA’s second call for submissions invited over 400 poems of which Jose shortlisted 60, besides the students’ submissions. Further fine-tuning came from the extended advisory committee. “I’d go over the work as a reader first and if it speaks to me as a whole, I then look for a good balance between content and medium. We were more lenient with the students’ work as this really is their forum to stand on par with established writers”

LIJLA also includes art, interviews and photography, a format which Jose says has been inspired by publications such as Granta. It is also entirely digital and available for free on Issue.com. “We began with no budget at all, so an online journal, distributed freely was the way to go,” says Jose.

The magazine was designed and laid out by Mariam Henna, a third year student editor of the Copy Editing course. “Designing over 400 pages took several weeks of work but it was a great experience for us to receive feedback and advice from writers all over the world,” she says.

Several members of the Writer’s Forum now hope to take their creative pursuits toward a professional arena.

For future editions of LIJLA, the editorial team hopes to include more special features like the one this time on haiku, says associate editor, and assistant professor of English, Aravind Nair.

“We want to stay current with trends across the globe so our next issue may focus on flash fiction. From just our earlier calls for submissions, we have enough quality material to carry forward to our third edition so curating that, including the fresh entries, is going to be interesting”.

Teresian Journal of English Studies

Kochi is also home to another literary college journal of international recognition with the Teresian Journal of English Studies (TJES) published by St. Teresa’s College. In existence from 2009, its focus is research papers on contemporary developments in English literature, but includes book reviews and poetry as well. The journal has received entries from the US, UK, New Zealand, China and Australia and its fifth edition is ready for release in October.

“This project was kicked off with a seminar we conducted in 2009 in collaboration with the London Metropolitan University. Two of their professors, Fiona English and Tim Marr, gave us much guidance with which to begin the journal,” says Latha Nair, book review editor of TJES. From then on, the journal has enjoyed a growing number of submissions each year with its selection process thus becoming tougher, says Priya K. Nair, associate editor. “We look for work that is current in content, up-to-date in research methodology and is written in good language following correct referencing systems.” For the October 2013 edition, the journal received over 40 submissions, which were narrowed down to 12 for publication. The book reviews and poems are written by the college’s undergraduate literature students while postgraduate students are encouraged to submit their research papers. The journal is now peer-reviewed by professors from three Kerala Universities.

TJES is currently an annual publication, although many have suggested it become bi-annual. “Each edition takes immense effort, through the entire year, so putting out two would compromise on quality,” says Celine E., editor. Besides, finances to meet rising printing costs have not come by easy either. What has kept the team going though, has been the generous flow of submissions. “This is the age of publish or perish. So researchers in academic circles everywhere are looking for forums to put out their work; so there’s no dearth of entries,” says Celine. “While our editions so far have not been themed, and have included work on a wide variety of topics, we hope to make our future editions have thrust areas. Some possible ideas we’re toying with now are an issue on post 9/11 literature, writing on terror etc,” says Latha.

Creating such a journal with international collaborations has been a springboard of sorts to connect with researchers worldwide, says Lata. Adds Priya, “We’ve had to keep abreast of the latest developments in literary theory. It’s also changed the way we read, and approach, literary writing. It’s kept us on our toes!”

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