Literary magazine enters 21st year

Zaum (Russian): the linguistic experiments in sound symbolism and language-creation of Russian-empire futurist poets. Zaum: the Sonoma State University literary magazine. 

Currently in its 21st year, “Zaum” is an award-winning literary magazine produced by Sonoma State Students. The magazine, previously titled “Mandala” has existed at Sonoma State for over 30 years. 

Students enrolled in English 368, Small Press Editing: Zaum, have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience with production. It is open to all students, not just English majors. 

The student-run class is broken up into three separate sections, which also serve as the three sections of the magazine-prose. The sections consist of short stories, both fiction and non-fiction, poetry and artwork. Each section has an editor, who must submit an application and must be elected.

Professor Gillian Conoley, who serves as the head faculty adviser for the magazine, says he tries to let students have the full experience of running a literary magazine. 

“I want the students to have the experience of running their own magazine without professorial intrusion,” said Conoley. 

 Conoley is a English professor at Sonoma State, as well as a poet in residence. An accomplished poet, she has been involved with literary publishing for over 30 years. 

“I love independent literary publishing and like to provide an opportunity for students to create their own magazine both at Sonoma State and once they graduate.” said Conoley. “Literary magazines are the lifeline of literary publishing. Most great works of literature first appeared in literary magazines.”

The national magazine, ranging anywhere between 70 to 100 pages, is published each spring semester and has a different theme every year. 

New Editor-in-Chief Sean Johnson, a senior English major with a concentration in literature, is holding off on revealing this year’s theme for now, but says he is excited about it. 

“This year I really wanted to make sure everyone had their say in it, so we came up with multiple themes and voted on it as a class and went which the majority,” said Johnson.

This year’s final deadline is Nov. 11, with the priority deadline on Nov. 4, but Johnson encourages writers to get entries in as soon as possible. “Zaum” is open to all Sonoma Statestudents, not just English majors. In fact, “Zaum” receives submissions from all over the country. 

Works to be published are selectedby the different groups of the class. Johnson feelshaving multiple sets of eyes helps when it comes to selecting, as different people have different opinions. 

“Not everyone likes the same things,” Johnson said. 

For a submission to be published, it must fit with the theme and have not been previously published. Prose pieces are limited to 15 pages and poetry to six pages. Aside from theme, they look for structure and diction. From there, they decide where the piece would make sense. 

“As long as it flows and makes sense, it has a chance.” Johnson added. 

Submissions can be workshopped as well. Zaum editors will work with the writer so their work reaches it’s full potential. 

For Johnson, the best part about “Zaum” is seeing students use all of their knowledge and abilities to put towards theirgoal. 

“A lot of the students are very determined on becoming editors. Because of that, they take what they do in this class very seriously. They’re looking at this as getting their foot in the door of becoming an editor. To me, that is one of the most rewarding things,” said Johnson.

Johnson hopes to leave the magazine even better than he found it, but what he would really like to accomplish is just getting the word out. 

Zaum is not known widely by the school. This is an award-winning magazine that no one, outside of English students, really knows about,” said Johnson. “I want people to know the magazine, that’s the biggest thing right now.”

Submissions for the 21st edition of “Zaum” can be sent to