Sylvania’s literary magazine crowned with national honor
Photos and Story by James Hill
Alchemy, an annual literary magazine produced by students at Portland Community College’s Sylvania Campus for the past 41 years, has won a Gold Crown Award for college magazines by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. The honor recognizes the 2012-13 Alchemy edition as one of the top college literary magazines in the country.
“The award is a compliment to the students working together and having such imagination in producing this edition of Alchemy last year,” said Michael McDowell, writing instructor and faculty advisor for the magazine. “They came up with all of the ideas.”
This spring, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association announced its top awards for collegiate publications at the 2014 College Media Convention, in New York, N.Y. This year, 1,236 digital, newspapers, magazines and yearbooks published during the 2012-2013 academic year were eligible for judging in the 2014 Crown Awards Program. All entries were judged at Columbia University on writing and editing, design, content, concept, photography, art and graphics.
The CSPA is an international student press association uniting student journalists and faculty advisers at schools, and colleges through educational conferences, idea exchanges and award programs. The association has been owned by Columbia University since 1925 and is operated as a program affiliated with its Graduate School of Journalism.
In addition to PCC, other colleges that were awarded College Magazine Gold Crowns included Brookdale Community College (Lincroft, N.J.), University of Guelph-Humber (Toronto, Canada), Indiana University (Bloomington, Ind.) and North Carolina State University (Raleigh, N.C.).
Alchemy, a magazine of student writing and art, is published annually as a class project by the students of Writing 246 and 249 (“Advanced Creative Writing: Editing and Publishing”) at the Sylvania Campus. The magazine also collaborates with creative writing, graphic design and art classes to produce the annual.
“Long hours of cooperative effort go into putting out the magazine and year after year our students rise to the challenge,” said Dave Stout, division dean of English & World Languages at Sylvania. “Alchemy is a testament to the great things that can happen when there is collaboration between student writers, graphic designers and visual artists. The Gold Crown award is a wonderful recognition of our students’ fine work.”
The six student editors involved with the 2013 edition of Alchemy included Andrew Brown (Southeast Portland), Jordan Haddad (Oregon City), Ivy Knight (Southeast Portland), Danielle McAdams (Southeast Portland) and Kaitlin McRee (Southeast Portland). They were in charge of layout, graphic design, copy editing and making judgments on submissions.
“I was surprised,” said Brown, who plans to transfer to Marylhurst University and study English Literature. “I wasn’t expecting this at all. But it is satisfying. It’s the most important and successful thing I’ve ever done.”
McAdams said the program offers an upper division academic quality while retaining the approachability of a community college course. She said the students were given complete control over the magazine and endured all of the stress and excitement associated with putting out a publication on deadline.
“Michael McDowell refused to run Alchemy as anything short of a professional literary magazine, and the result is, in my opinion, a real accomplishment,” McAdams said. “I have never before, or since, had the pleasure of being immersed in work that was so practical and rewarding.”
Alchemy was first started in 1973 and used the expertise of five different departments and their classes. The collaborative concept has spread to other campuses with similar magazines being produced at the Rock Creek (“The Bellwether Review”) and Cascade (“The Pointed Circle”) campuses using their own WR 246/249 classes, and Southeast Center will soon have its own as well. Alchemy can be purchased for $5 a copy through local bookstores: PCC Sylvania Bookstore, Powell’s Books on Burnside and Annie Bloom’s Books in Multnomah Village.