Students participate in writing, editing the fifth edition of literary journal ‘Dazed Starling’

A collection of students’ writing was bound together for the fifth edition of the annual literary journal “Dazed Starling” at California Baptist University.

The literary journal combines a collection of short stories, flash-fiction, creative non-fiction and various forms of poetry. CBU students began writing and editing the journal as early as January with Dr. Derek Updegraff, associate professor of English and creative writing, as the Journal’s founder and adviser.

Updegraff began teaching at CBU in 2013, bringing the literary journal with him. He said he came up with the title “Dazed Starling” from a Richard Wilbur poem called “The Writer,” which discusses the difficulty of the writing process.

“At one point, there’s a bird trapped in a room and it’s trying to get out but there’s only one open window and it doesn’t know which is the right one. It keeps smacking into the glass,” Updegraff said. “Finally, it finds the open window and flies away. He is essentially saying that being a writer is like that — it’s hard work. Eventually, you find the right word or phrase — or whatever it is — and it’s like clearing the sill of the world, like flying through a window.”

Updegraff said the journal had more than 200 submissions. The writing pieces are submitted to him, where he removes the name of the author and replaces it with a number so the submission process is anonymous. Then, the student editors from his literary journal editing and publishing class use a scoring system to rank each piece.

Natalie Carter, junior English major, said each year’s edition of “Dazed Starling” is different as each year’s batch of editors have creative freedom on how to assemble it.

“The theme this year is life and death — the whole cycle of the human experience. It’s a really interesting balance of love and loss, death and life. It’s all inspired by our submissions that we receive,” Carter said.

Katie Mockary, senior English major, worked as an editor on the journal.

“This year’s journal gets deep and our peers have some of the coolest minds and are extremely creative in how they approach different topics,” Mockery said. “Our classmates get honest and this journal shows us what they’re thinking about, what they’re experiencing and how they’re coping with it all.”

Cynthia Clark, senior creative writing major, said she is publishing five poems in the journal.

The poems include topics from a child’s imagination to the pain humans face on an everyday basis.

Clark said the process of publishing her work has helped her grow as a writer.

“Because of to the different writing workshops that I’ve done, I’ve noticed that my writing is more fluid and specific. Other writers and poets were able to see the flaws in my work and helped me improve in places that my eyes could not see,” Clark said. “When I edited my peers’ work, I looked at how they were able to keep the story flowing and how they used description to convey a certain mood.”

The journal’s launch party will take place as an open mic April 25 from 5 – 7 p.m.

The launch will be tied to the bachelor’s of fine art reading in creative writing where four graduating students will be
giving a reading.

After this reading, students who took part in the journal will be invited to take the mic to read their journal pieces.

About Audrey Stoddard

A&E Editor

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