'Miranda's Station Review' makes a comeback
'90s creative writing and poetry magazine looks to be revived 27 years later
Miranda’s Station Review, a student-run publication, may not be familiar to most who roam University of Arizona campus today. The free publication — a poetry, art and creative writing magazine — landed on campus in fall 1991. Michael Baker, a non-traditional undergrad, was one of the co-founders of the magazine and is looking to revive the publication in the spring of 2018.
Baker, who graduated from high school in Pennsylvania in 1982, started at Pennsylvania State University, unsure of what he wanted to do.
In fall of 1986, he found it was possible to major in poetry and transferred to UA. At that time, he was going through an anti-social phase, which caused him to fail some classes. “I didn’t go to any of my classes, I failed four of them and got a ‘D’ in one of them: poetry,” Baker said.
So he decided he would come back in the spring and write. He signed up for Introduction to Fiction Writing, taught by David Foster Wallace, who was a graduate student at the time.
“I went to the first class and he was very intimidating. The first thing he said was that there were too many students in this class,” Baker said. “‘Some of you don’t belong here,’ [Wallace] said.”
Then, because of financial aid issues, Baker had to discontinue his time at the UA. He returned in 1990 to continue his school career. The same year, talk of producing a publication started to arise.
The idea, conceived by his friend Shawn Davis and Davis’ roommate at the time, to produce a magazine sparked the interest of Baker.
In fall of ’91, Baker returned to campus and Davis was in need of someone to help start the magazine due to Davis’ roommate falling out of the project.
“[Davis] said ‘do you want to do a ‘zine with me?’ I don’t think he was really serious, but I was all for it,” Baker said.
Davis got his girlfriend at the time to be the fiction editor.
Baker knew Kerry Lengel, a contributor to the magazine, from the previous year at school and knew he had a “literary mindset.” The magazine was a way for Lengel to get his foot in the door. He also worked at the Daily Wildcat, but this production was for the creative writing and arts students to have an outlet to create. Lengel now works at the Arizona Republic.
Davis’ girlfriend’s friend, who was an arts major at the UA, did the cover on the first issue, and the magazine was off the ground.
“We just posted flyers up wherever we thought creative people would be to see,” Baker said. “We had a difficult time getting submissions, especially at first, but then they picked up.”
The magazine wanted to be a healthy mix of literature — poetry, fiction and journalism articles included.
“The writing was all handwritten or mechanical typesetting,” Lengel said, which brought a creative flow to the magazine.
Like most publications, keeping up with times was tough. Getting submissions and working on a nonprofit magazine was something that was addressed constantly.
The magazine got some funding from the UA, though most of the money came from selling advertisements. Yet the magazine still faced problems.
The arts editor for each issue was a different person due to a high turnover rate on the position.
“We thought of ourselves as the Beatles of the publishing world. Shawn was Paul McCartney and I was John Lennon,” Baker said. “Our art editor was our drummer; we kept having to replace the drummer.”
Miranda’s Station Review produced five issues — four while Baker was on staff and one the year after he left.
“The first one was a little rough, as far as design goes,” Baker said. “The other issues, I’m pretty proud of what we did, and the material that we published is actually pretty decent.”
They passed out the magazine to students at two parts of the school and increased print numbers every issue, starting at 400 and rising to 1,000 by the last issue. Interest in the publication was not as keen as they hoped it would be, but there was some interest.
Persona, an undergraduate literature magazine produced at the UA, was one of the only other magazines that ran on campus.
“They were the official voice of undergraduates, and we were the unofficial voice and we embraced that,” Baker said.
The magazine’s fourth issue resembled the Beatles’ White Album. Both the album and the magazine were doubles, meaning two releases.
“Mike was pretty much the person that was pushing it creatively,” Lengel said. “He brought a sort of fun indie spirit to it.”
The creative flow of the publication continued through 1993.
Baker dropped out of school before May of ’92 just before graduation due to personal reasons. He did not see the magazine run its final issue.
In the last few years, he has been through, according to him, a sort of enlightenment. In the last few weeks, he has looked through the old magazines and wanted to bring it back.
He resided in Tulsa, Oklahoma and wanted to go back to school. He got a hold of an UA adviser and asked if his credits were still good. They said yes, but he would need to take five classes.
“I saw that professor Chomsky was having a class and was upset that I wasn’t in Arizona so that I could take the class,” Baker said. “So, I started thinking and there wasn’t anything that was keeping me in Oklahoma, so I came out here for my last semester.”
This is Baker’s third time at the UA. He will graduate in May with an undergraduate degree in creative writing, with a focus on poetry.
The magazine was a part of his experience at the UA in the ‘90s, so he wants to bring it back and pass it on. It was a way for students to get creative and produce content.
“It seems that in 2018, a digital magazine would be the natural way to provide the sort of outlet for students,” Lengel said.
Baker is ready to train the next generation of staffers at the magazine. He has reached out to some classes, yet wants this to be something independent and student-run — something that can be passed on.
Baker is reaching out to the Poetry Center to get connections, but he also wants student involvement. To reach Michael Baker, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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