Student literary, art journal expected to be successful again

Those close to this year’s Totem, released last Wednesday, have said that it is a success once again.

Over the past 17 years, according to adviser Berwyn Moore, professor of English, the Totem has received recognition from the ASPA – the American Scholastic Press Association.

Christine Peffer, Totem editor and junior English major, said that her goal for this year’s magazine was, “to produce something that would do justice to all of the work that would appear in it.”

She also said that her secondary goal was to keep the successful tradition alive with regard to past ASPA recognition.

This year the Totem staff took a different approach to the magazine’s design.

According to Moore, she likes to give the editors the opportunity to consider new designs each year. “I typically like to leave it up to them to do what they do,” she said.

Each year, an art submission is selected for the book’s cover, and the Totem staff strives to select a student’s art work, if possible, Moore said.

This year, Rachael Bucey, a freshman nursing major, was the chosen one – her abstract watercolor was selected as the cover art.

Bucey, who said she has been creating art her entire life, said she was excited and honored at her piece’s prominent display.

“I called my parents right away,” Bucey said. “I’ve never had my art printed in a way that others could see it—it’s never been printed in a book that others could see and read. It all felt very tangible.”

Not only did Bucey receive recognition in the form of the front cover spot, but she also received $100. However, she said that, “just printing it was enough.”

Although Bucey loves art, she developed ganglion cysts in her wrists, curtailing her future as an artist. Fortunately, Bucey said she still finds time for art on breaks from class.

Bucey said that she entered several pieces for this year’s Totem and three of them were selected for print. Although she said she was surprised at the selection for the cover at first, because it was a piece that she had done in high school and she thought of it as juvenile, she said she loves that the modern look of the piece inspired the modern effect of the book.

Moore also added that almost all of the production work is typically done on Gannon University’s campus at the Gannon Press, but some designs require outside assistance.

“The nice thing about this year’s issue was that we were able to have all of the work done here on campus, which allows for quicker feedback and a more hands-on experience for staff members,” Moore said.

However, Moore said that the staff hit a few speed bumps with this year’s Totem. Peffer and her assistant editor, Kelly Moreland, junior English major, began the process working with Catrina Spano, Gannon’s former graphic art designer. However, when Spano later took another position, the staff began working with the new graphic design artist, Andy Lapiska.

“Although they switched graphic artists in the middle of the process, it didn’t snag the process in the slightest – it was an easy transition,” Moore said.

In fact, Moore said she was pleased with the final result. “It’s gorgeous–the book itself is a work of art,” she said.

The major change Totem saw this year was from the perfect binding to the low-tech screws, Moore said.

“Although this was a more tedious process, it was a great experience for staff members to help out with the production of the books,” she said.

Bucey agreed that the book turned out well. She said her favorite aspect is the modern look and the screws in lieu of a perfect binding.

“It’s amazing that the staff members went out of their way to put the books together, screwing each screw individually,” she said.

Totem has received first place with special merit 7 times, and last year it received Most Outstanding College Literary Magazine of 2011, an award that wasn’t even in the listing.

Moore said that she hopes this year’s magazine will receive recognition from the ASPA. “It’s a great design, so I would be surprised if it didn’t,” she said.

Overall, Moore said this year saw more submissions than in the past in prose, poetry and especially art work.

“We are very grateful to the Gannon community for submitting work,” she said.

“We particularly enjoy when students from all majors participate, whether it be through submission or production.”



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