Students showcase writing, photography talent in latest ASU 'Downtown' journal

By

Maureen Roen

With a vibe as fresh and eclectic as ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, the eighth annual issue of the journal “Write On, Downtown” celebrates the city, student life and exemplary writing and photography by students on the urban campus.

The cover art – a nighttime shot taken outside Phoenix’s Welcome Diner – puts readers in the downtown scene, settling them into the warm neon glow of a favorite neighborhood hangout.

Between the covers, 36 pieces of writing and 26 photos – selected from 250 submissions – showcase the talents of ASU students completing degrees in everything from kinesiology, creative writing and English education to political science, journalism and pre-professional health sciences.

The 2014 issue of "Write On, Downtown" is now available online. Printed copies of the student-produced journal were distributed at a “launch luncheon” on May 2, where the 2014 editors and contributors were recognized by their peers, family members and ASU Downtown Phoenix campus faculty and staff. Some contributors and editors shared comments about their experience with the journal or read from their work.

“Fearless, persuasive, passionate and brilliant” are a few of the adjectives Barbara Lafford, faculty head of Languages and Cultures in the School of Letters and Sciences, used in describing this year’s featured writers and artists as she introduced the event. “They shine light on truth with a wisdom far beyond what might be expected at their age.”

“For a number of our writers and photographers, this is the first time they’ve had their work published,” notes faculty editor-in-chief Rosemarie Dombrowski, English lecturer in the School of Letters and Sciences. “Being recognized for their work helps develop their identities as writers, artists and scholars, and many sign on with the editorial team for future issues.”

“We want them to take the success they’ve experienced with this project and carry it into their lives beyond college,” adds English instructor Catherine Rezza, co-editor-in-chief for the 2014 issue.

“Write On, Downtown” has matured considerably since it launched in 2007 as a small pamphlet highlighting some of the best student writing in English classes at the Downtown Phoenix campus.

In 2009, Women and Philanthropy awarded a $4,500 grant to the project to defray publication costs and initiate editorial internships.

In spring 2014, 18 students – many of them featured as contributors in prior issues – took advantage of the editorial internship opportunities with “Write On, Downtown,” enrolling in a weekly ENG 484 course led by Dombrowski and Rezza.

“Interns manage the call for papers, conceive a theme for the issue and oversee the full editorial process,” Dombrowski says. “They also plan and promote the luncheon event and maintain the e-zine.”

This year’s editors rolled out a 148-page, perfect-bound edition featuring diverse genres, including ethnographic pieces, personal essays, gothic fiction and various forms of contemporary poetry.

ASU graphic designer Deanna Johnson Mullican, manager of creative services in the School of Letters and Sciences, partners each year with the editorial team on the design and oversees production.

The 2014 launch event was supported by donor Mary Ehret.

“As a freshman, I didn’t expect I could have this kind of experience at all,” reflected Cronkite School of Journalism first-year student Kaitlin Kroum about having her ethnography of the culture of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” selected for the 2014 issue.

“I remember when we were told in class that we would be writing an ethnography, my first reaction was ‘A what?’” laughed Kroum.

Students interested in the “Write On, Downtown” editing internship should submit a brief statement of qualifications/interest to poetryphd@asu.edu.

Submissions may be any piece of exemplary, timely and/or evocative writing done for any Downtown Phoenix course or photographs taken by a student attending the Downtown Phoenix campus that capture the Downtown aesthetic, campus community and greater Downtown Phoenix community. Email submissions to writeonasu@gmail.com with the genre or course name in the subject line, and your name and instructor’s name in the e-mail body.