by Christyn Pettway
Star, formerly known as “ZPlatt,” is SUNY Plattsburgh’s literary and arts magazine. This magazine is edited and published by students majoring in English, who are required to take the course for practicum credit as a junior and/or seniors.
Unlike other magazine practicums, this course is only offered during the Spring semester of each term. Depending on what role you register for on the North Star staff, the course can be for either one or two credits. North Star’s staff looks for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, art and multimedia content (consisting of either visual arts or live arts) to make up the entirety of the publication.
For special purposes, each genre has certain requirements for submission. For fiction and non-fiction, there is a 7,000 word count maximum, for poetry they’ll accept up to 5 pieces from one student, up to 5 visual art pieces at a time and one one-act play.
Also unlike other magazine practicums, this magazine only features the work of student submissions. This means that students taking the course aren’t the ones who’s pieces are being published, but instead they promote North Star to get student submissions they then vote on to be published. If the class is in agreement to publish a student’s work, they then make edits and publish it in the magazine. Students can submit up to 5 pieces for voting.
River Ashe Maynard, a senior who’s part of North Star’s staff this term, is currently a managing editor for the publication. She serves as the “go-between” between section editors and the head editor. Section editors handle selecting edits for submissions while the head editor takes care of the behind the scenes work like the budget and printing. As managing editor, Maynard role is to help with recommending edits if section editors need it and to take care of anything the head editor doesn’t have time to do.
Each year, the North Star staff of that term comes up with a different theme for the magazine- even if the theme is “no theme”. This year’s theme is “creation in isolation,” however, this does not have to necessarily be based around the pandemic and quarantine or even about isolation itself. “It’s something you created when you felt alone or when you were just isolated in some way whether physically or metaphorically,” Maynard said.
Like nearly all other courses, this practicum has been impacted by COVID. Since North Star relies only on PSUC student submissions, they usually promote through flyers they hang around campus. With COVID regulations like social distancing and online learning, less people are on campus than previous semesters which means less people seeing these flyers. As a result, the North Star staff has been receiving fewer submissions so far this semester.
Maynard and other staff members have found it difficult to put out new pieces consistently. Still, they continue seeking submissions by having two social media representatives who promote the magazine on different social media platforms. Between that and advertising through things like the Student Digest, Maynard tries to remain positive but still acknowledges the fact that North Star’s staff has definitely become limited.