Frustrated with the fact that there was no platform for youth voices in Tucson, eight University High School students took matters into their own hands.
Editors-in-Chief Sharmila Dey and Genevieve Erickson, both seniors at UHS, co-founded Carnegiea Literary Magazine, a non-profit, youth-led magazine where middle school through college students can submit their art or writing. They recently launched their first print edition of the magazine at the University of Arizona Poetry Center on Oct. 26.
“We wanted to start one to highlight youth voice, because it’s not always shared or listened to,” Dey said. “We wanted to make sure that they had a space to get out there and also show the diversity of voice, thought and opinion from youth in Tucson.”
Two summers ago, Erickson went to a writing workshop at Denison University in Ohio. She noticed the people there were talking about publications they had and where they had been published. Erickson realized there wasn’t a space like that in Tucson.
“I approached Sharmila after I was back in town, and I knew that she had been having some trouble getting into bigger online magazines that usually take adult-focused content, and I was like, ‘Hey, what you do feel about creating a space for Tucson youth creative?'” Erickson said.
Dey was inspired to create the magazine with Erickson because she noticed an age divide within publications.
“We started about a year and a half ago and we were really frustrated because a lot of the staff who are working on the magazine are poets and artists, and we noticed that, for a lot of platforms, it was really divided between youth, like, 13 and under, and then adult platforms,” Dey said. “There wasn’t really a platform that was just for middle ages."
Originally, Carnegiea Literary Magazine was only going to be exclusive to UHS, but Erickson felt that Tucson had so much to offer.
“There are so many voices here that aren’t really heard a lot, especially in South Tucson or in the less represented areas, and I really wanted to celebrate those voices and spread them around for other people to appreciate,” Erickson said.
Dey and the rest of the masthead got the website up and running in September of last year. According to Erickson, they feature all sorts of writing, art and multimedia.
“For the print issue, everything that’s considered is writing pieces. So that’s poetry, prose, non-fiction and then visual arts, so photography and any drawings or paintings that can have a photo taken of or scanned and then can be submitted digitally,” Erickson said. “On our website, we have little films or we’ve had a poem that was recited and then put alongside a film. We also take music files.”
Dey said they get submissions for the magazine through their email from all over Tucson, stating that their youngest submitter has been from middle school and their oldest submitter has been from college.
“In the beginning, it was hard. because we had to recruit a lot of submissions, but now people hear about us and then they submit,” Dey said.
Art editors Nic Owen and Lulu Youngerman get to look through the art submissions and choose the pieces they believe capture the idea of local art.
“We try to do a variety of things," Youngerman said. "For example, one time someone sent us a picture of cupcakes they had decorated, which were not very conventional, but totally fun.”
Both Owen and Youngerman said they see a lot of memorable art. Owen even has a photograph from one of the submitters up in his bedroom.
“It’s so important to have, especially in high school, because you only do art in art class,” Owen said. “It’s so great to see people going out of their way to take pictures and submit.”
For UHS student Abby Parker, the Carnegiea Literary Magazine allows students everywhere the opportunity to get their work out there.
“It’s really cool because it's published, so a lot of the time you don’t normally get your art out aside from art shows that happen at school, so it’s a different environment,” Parker said. “A lot of people are surprised to see the quality and the different styles in all of our art.”
Both Dey and Erickson encourage everyone to submit their art and writing to Carnegiea Literary Magazine. According to Erickson, they are starting to compile new work for their second print edition.
“I didn’t even know that there was so much talent in Tucson before I started working on this magazine,” Erickson said. “We have had such an influx of incredible content, and if anyone is interested in the arts or likes creative endeavors in general, they should definitely check out this magazine, because we have so many wonderful submitters.”
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