Columbia Scholastic awards Vortex gold medal certificate

The Vortex, UCA’s student-run literary magazine, was recently awarded a gold metal certificate by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the first time the Vortex has won the award.
Each year the Vortex is submitted into a state contest sponsored by the Arkansas College Media Association. The literary magazine is a four-time first place winner and has also placed second and third in various categories.
The new instructor of the Vortex, Garry Powell, assistant professor of writing, entered last year’s edition of the Vortex into a contest run by Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the magazine was awarded the gold medal certificate.
“Columbia [University in New York] is the best journalism school in America, if not the world actually,” Powell said.
The Vortex is a journal of fine arts and literature produced by the writing department.
Senior editor Megan Riley said, to her knowledge, the Vortex has never won an award this significant.
She said the competition was an annual national contest provided by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association through Columbia University and that it is the best award they could receive.
Powell gave credit to the staff who put together the Vortex last year.
“I don’t deserve any credit, I only submitted [the Vortex]. Last year’s editor, John Anderson, and the assistant editors and the staff writers deserve the credit.”
The Vortex is run entirely by students. Students on the editorial staff accept student submissions and piece together what eventually becomes a literary magazine, Powell said.
The Vortex is compiled of all forms of creative writing from poetry to short stories and often includes photography and artwork, Powell said.
This year’s printed edition will be available in April, Riley said.
She said the Vortex is still accepting submissions for the online monthly digital. Students can view the online digital on their website,
Powell said it can be difficult to judge how popular the Vortex is with the students on campus.
“It’s hard to tell just how popular the print magazine is,” he said. “Last year, 5,000 copies were printed, but because they are free, it’s difficult to say if students are picking them up because they want to read it or just because it’s free.”
The problem with literary magazines, he said, is getting everyone to know about them. All great writers at UCA should know about the Vortex, Powell said.
He said it was helpful to submit the magazine into the contest even if they hadn’t won such a great award because they received a critique. Top professionals in the industry sent them several pages of notes about the layout and the content of the magazine, he said.
To reach the deadline for the Columbia Press contest, staff members must submit the previous year’s edition. Riley said that if next year’s editor so chooses, he can send in the finished product of what staff members are working on right now.
Last week, about 10 students from the Vortex staff were taken to Washington, D.C. to attend the annual conference for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. They left Feb. 4 and returned Feb. 6.
Anyone who works on something related to publishing written materials can attend the conference, Powell said.
Riley said that the conference is international and the largest annual writers conference. Writers of all kinds, from undergraduates to professionals, come together for craft and workshop conference. This year’s conference included a book fair in which individuals could sell their printed works, and among these was the Toadsuck Review, the UCA-published literary magazine, formerly The Exquisite Corpse.

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