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Inspiration from the Page: Literary Editorial Team Visits from LaGuardia Community College


Last month, a class from Laguardia Community College stopped by the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building to get some inspiration for The Lit, a student-run journal of writing and art. We pulled many items to spark their creativity. Here were the crowd pleasers:

The magazine Vintage was appreciated for its interactive format and “hip” style. This journal put some thought into coordinating page with subject—an article tackling the history of the shopping bag is printed on an accordion pullout from a small shopping bag affixed to the page, a piece on music is printed on a page shaped and sized like a 45rmp record sleeve, and so on. This journal is a delight for the eye and a fabulous read. Vintage launched in 2009 and is based out of New York. Like Laguardia Community College students, this magazine looked to another publication for its inspiration: Fleur Cowles’ magazine Flair  which was published in the 1950’s and had a reputation for its over-the-top production at the time.


Ninth Letter  won students over with its inventive format as well. The magazine features multiple components like maps and supplementary chapbooks. Ninth Letter is a collaboration between the the University of Illinois’s Creative Writing Program and School of Art & Design; it began in 2004. Not only does this journal seek to make itself look good through reinvention of the page, but it also seeks to strike a balance between the classic and the new. In response to the question of what they publish, the editors write, “We are interested in prose and poetry that experiment with form, narrative, and nontraditional subject matter, as well as more traditional literary work.”

Laguardia students described the magazine American Chordata as “modern,” and were drawn to its realistic photographs and drawings. They related to several pieces within the magazine, including a photograph of a dancer on the New York subway. American Chordata is published biannually; it includes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry as well as art and photography. This item helped students realise what they are interested in publishing and see the world they know from a new angle. American Chordata offers a free e-version of its issues to its readers via its website, if you can’t wait to get your eyes on a print copy of this  magazine.

Students enjoyed the artwork in the journal Now, especially the cover art by Robert Branaman. The human form was drawn in different positions to create the letters in the title, and bright colors were a contrast to the cover’s beige background. Three issues of Now were published in the 1960’s. The editor Chas Plymell describes the journal as a “record of what has gone down in the past year or so,” noting that materials within the journal came from a variety of cities, including New York, London, Los Angeles, Wichita, and San Francisco. Plymell writes, “I’ve tried to keep the mag new, not too cool, too academic, weepy or protesty . . . just some record of what’s happening.”

One student from LaGuardia Community College said she liked the zine Poetry Motel’s title; she thought it was simple and clever, it’s the reason she picked it up in the first place. (The word “stanza” means room in Italian.) Poetry Motel was based out of Duluth, MN, and began in 1984. The table of contents is a guest book, and each poet has a room number. If you’d like to check out NYPL’s zine collection you can find a list on our website.

Here’s an assortment of older literary journals that we're fond of, and which we showed to the students: Out ThereBlack Mountain ReviewLaughing Horse, and Jackass.

If your class is looking for inspiration for a class project as well, and would like to explore our research collections, please contact the division you are interested in working with directly. 

And since April is National Poetry Month, stop by and check out poetry featured in the latest issue of The Lit  or NYPL’s extensive collection of literary journals.

This post was co-created with Miriam Gianni, General Research Division, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building


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