Harvard Review: Get lit

by Madeline Smith

If you consider yourself a creative writer or a critical reader, you'll want to stop by the Harvard Review open house for undergrads, 5-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12 in the Thompson Room of the Barker Center.

For the past 25 years, Harvard Review has been the college's semi-annual literary journal for works of various genres and styles. Christina Thompson, editor of HR, considers the journal a unique medium by which new writing can be distributed to the Harvard community and beyond. "It's a niche publication," says Thompson, "but with widespread access."

For those thinking about attending the open house, here's a primer:

1) Print or online?

You may think that a print publication doesn't stand a fighting chance in the era of JSTOR, Nooks and yes, blogs. However, HR editors are determined to capitalize on the benefits of the internet. Thompson believes you have "to reach people where they are," and that having an "online presence" is now essential. Thompson is committed to designing an online presence that is complementary to the print publication. The HR website features a blog, excerpts from past issues and innovative mouse-over capabilities for reading non-English text. "Where you can enhance understanding with something cool," says Thompson, "use the web." Plans for the future include an e-publication version of HR available for download, a podcast featuring interviews with contributing writers and a video art component.

2) What would I do as a student?

Harvard students read and critique submissions to the journal. This job has gone to students from Emerson College and Lesley University in the past, but HR is excited at the prospect of Harvard students engaging in this process. Contributors have included Arthur Miller, John Updike and Seamus Heaney. Not bad company to keep! Many young and undiscovered writers have also been part of the editorial lineup.

3) Why is this worth my time?

"If you want to be a writer, you need to be a reader," says Thompson. Submissions cover a vast array of styles and genres, and exposure to such a diverse set of material can inform one's own creative process. Furthermore, in light of the innovation ahead, readers for HR will get to see the inner workings of the publication as it adapts and reinvents itself for the digital age.