The making of a magazine: Laurel Moon

A crop of the Fall 2019 copy of Laurel Moon Magazine, with a blue, pink and green abstract design and "Laurel Moon" in white letters

The cover for the Fall 2019 edition of Laurel Moon was designed by Declan McKenna, an undergraduate at the Maryland Institute College of Art

“‘Tell it slant.’ ‘Comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.’ Brandeis University was founded to embrace the marginalized, and Laurel Moon seeks to do the same.”

This introduction on Laurel Moon’s website drew me in when I decided to submit my writing to their Spring 2019 issue. My first effort was rejected. So I never would have imagined that my name would be on the masthead of the magazine’s Fall 2019 issue.

Founded in 1991, Laurel Moon is Brandeis University’s oldest student-run magazine. Originally a literary journal meant to showcase the work of Brandeis students, since 2018 Laurel Moon has expanded to publish art and photography alongside literature, and now accepts work from undergraduate students all over the country. Laurel Moon publishes two magazines a year, one at the end of each semester. Alongside curating the magazine, Laurel Moon holds events including themed open-mics, guest speakers, and writing workshops. 

I joined Laurel Moon only last fall. Searching for clubs that involved writing, I found their table at the Involvement Fair and they welcomed me to sign up. I began attending their weekly meetings, and I was inspired by the small, dedicated team of editors right from the start. The idea of curating a magazine from scratch sounded exciting, and I liked the idea of giving underrepresented voices the platform to share their work. When executive board elections rolled around and I saw an opening for Managing Editor, I ran and was elected. I guess they didn’t recognize my name from the previous semester’s reject pile!

Laurel Moon's current editorial board, and guests. Back row: students Ethan Seidenberg, Lindsey Odorizzi, Mutiara Carney, Brandeis Profesor Chen Chen, the Jacob Ziskind poet in residence, Boston University Professor Lauren Peat, Jacob Keller. Front row: Brandeis students Caroline O, Sophie Fulara, Jinni Wang, Ivy Gao

With Editors in Chief Sophie Fulara’s and Jinni Wang’s guidance, I learned the nuts and bolts of running a magazine club.

The semester begins with submission calls. From distributing fliers around campus to sending emails to colleges and English departments, we strive to spread our word as far as we can and hope that it reels in stand-out submissions from voices across the nation. The more students who know about us, the more who will submit their work. And the more work we have to choose from, the better submissions we can pick. 

Our initial meetings consist of working through the submissions as a group and choosing the best work to publish. This process includes editors advocating for pieces that others may not like, giving authors constructive feedback on their writing, and being able to read fantastic work written by up-and-coming writers. When college gets busy, reading for pleasure can easily end up as a last priority. Laurel Moon editorial meetings give me the opportunity to read tons of literature of all different genres, written by peers who can share the experience of coming into our own as young adults.

two students, in a classroom hold up copies of Laurel Moon magazine
photo/Mutiara Carney '22

Caroline O and Jinni Wang show off Laurel Moon's latest issue.

Once we have curated our bi-annual selection of literature and art to publish, unfortunately we need to send out rejection emails to the contributors who did not make the cut. While this is my least favorite part of the process, we try to keep the rejections reassuring and we encourage everyone to submit again to our next issue. I of anyone can attest that having your writing turned down is not a personal rejection, and that there will always be another opportunity for your work to shine.

Laurel Moon also offers two prizes for featured writers who attend Brandeis. The Andrew Grossbardt Memorial Poetry Prize and the Dafna Zamarripa-Gesundheit Fiction Prize are awarded annually to two Brandeis students whose work is chosen for the magazine. 

Our layout editor Andrea Lei carries out the last steps before publication. These steps include designing the cover and organizing the inside pages, as well as delivering the final page count to Microprint, our local printer located right here in Waltham. 

When Sophie, Jinni, and I arrived at Microprint to pick up the final copies of the magazine, I could not wait to see the product of our hard work:

Laurel Moon Magazine open to a listing of its editorial staff, on top of a pile of covers of the magazine
photo/Mutiara Carney

The theme of our Fall 2019 issue is “Home.” Many of the pieces we published revolved around themes relating to identity, family, and transitional periods. While a home can be found in a house or other physical location, your home can also be grounded in yourself. If you are able to find a home within your identity, you will never feel abandoned or lost. We felt like the simple theme of “Home” encapsulated the fragile yet resilient anchor of one’s relationship with oneself.

If you are interested in literature, writing, art, or want to get involved with the process of editing and publishing a magazine, come check out Laurel Moon! Most of us aren’t creative writing or English majors, but simply want to preserve the importance of literature in today’s fast-paced society. Come join us on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. in Room 322 of the Shapiro Campus Center to take a pause from your busy day and enjoy reading the voices of students from across the country. I hope you find a home within our cozy editors’ circle the same way that I did. 

Interested in submitting your writing or artwork to Laurel Moon’s Spring 2020 Issue? We are accepting submissions now through March 15th! See our Submission Guidelines for more information. 

Categories: Student Life

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