Gila Community College will take the first step this semester toward launching an on-line literary magazine, using student stories and articles from several classes.
“We’ve got some wonderful writers in Payson — many with fascinating life experience,” said instructor Peter Aleshire, also news editor of the Payson Roundup.
Aleshire noted that he’ll include several assignments likely to generate submissions to the online magazine in the coursework for Eng. 4332 and 4333, a Monday evening independent writing class.
Other writing instructors will also include assignments likely to generate a mix of short stories, vividly written nonfiction articles, poetry and photography that could run in the magazine. Student volunteers will set up an editorial board to judge submissions in the course of the semester. Next semester, the college’s web page design class will actually build the publication.
“The students will develop the voice and mix and mission of the magazine,” said Aleshire. “The goal is to create a literary and visual magazine with very high standards. Normally, that might be hard for a small college — but we’ve got the most amazing students here. Many have run companies, written books, worked as artists, taught school — just accumulated the rich weave of experiences that makes for great writing.”
Aleshire spent 19 years as a writer and editor, 13 years teaching writing at Arizona State University and two years as editor of Arizona Highways before moving to Payson to work with the Roundup. He’s also written 12 nonfiction books, including histories of the Apache Wars, a book on training F-16 pilots, a three-book geology series and books about the natural history of Arizona.
Students for the Independent Writing class can sign up for either a fiction or a nonfiction section. The class will focus on the techniques common to novels, short stories and literary nonfiction, including character development, description, plotting and voice.
Aleshire hopes students in the class will produce a mix of stories that would work in the proposed literary magazine, including a short story, character sketches, personal anecdotes about life-changing moments and profiles of people in the community.
GCC writing faculty have already met to coordinate their assignments, in hopes of producing pieces that a not-yet-appointed student editorial board will sort through to gather content for the magazine.
“It’ll be up to the students to figure out what they want and to make the choices, although we’ll probably make it so that professors can nominate pieces that seem especially strong. I think it’ll be a wonderful chance for Rim Country to show off the talent concentrated here already,” said Aleshire.