Tests, quizzes and weekly readings do a decent enough job of educating students, but some classes offer innovative and intuitive ways to teach. When students are able to take the reigns and spend the semester working together to create a tangible product, it creates a sense of accomplishment that sticks with the whole class, empowers and readies them for their professional career. Students in the English program here at Sonoma State get that chance when they enroll in ENGL 368: Small Press Editing. Classmates work together to create the latest iteration of ZAUM, a collection of student art, poetry and prose.
Beginning in 1996, ZAUM is a culmination of works from SSU and other campuses that gets distributed around the Bay Area and is published annually. It has won multiple awards throughout the years from associated writing programs. Students from issues six and seven have even been awarded the coveted Pushcart Prize, which is awarded to young writers around the country.
ZAUM is handled completely by students with a little advising from Gillian Conoley, an English professor at SSU. While Gillian is instrumental in helping ZAUM become a reality each and every year, all day to day tasks are handled completely by students. Spearheading the project is Alli Songuillen, an english major in her third year.
“I want to be an editor for a magazine,” said Songuillen. And what better place to be at SSU than the editor for ZAUM.
Weekly class meetings are comprised of the ZAUM team going over submissions from students. The magazine consists of poetry, prose and art from students all over campus. The staff gets to vote on the content that goes into the magazine. Towards the end of the semester, students collaborate to decide every little aspect of the final print publication, from the font used throughout to the style of paper used in the magazine. This level of control gives students a unique chance to learn about editing and what it takes to put together something for public consumption.
This will be ZAUM’s 22nd iteration, and every version of the magazine totes a unique theme and cover art created by a student here at the school. Songuillen and the ZAUM team have not come up with this year’s theme yet, but hope to do so shortly. Last year’s theme was chaos, which prompted submitters to craft stories and poems centered around disorder and confusion. ZAUM 21 featured 50 works of art, poetry and prose altogether, and past magazines have similar numbers. Each edition differs in physical size and appearance and even layout, so each year the students can really say the end product is their very own.
“We’re eager for your submissions,” says Songuillen, as her and her team can’t wait to see what the students at SSU can bring to the table for this year’s ZAUM. Anyone hoping to take a shot and get a story in the magazine should email the team their entries to Songuillen firstname.lastname@example.org to be evaluated by the staff. The team is taking priority submissions until Oct. 5, and still accepting submissions all the way up to Nov. 9, so students have plenty of time to get those creative juices flowing and create the best piece they can.