During his junior year, Reed Landry ‘19 was searching for his extracurricular niche. Almost all of the clubs at Dunham seemed to be either STEM focused or service oriented. Reed was looking for something more in tune with his creative bent.
When he discovered an old issue of the Dunham Literary Journal from 2001, Reed decided to launch his own club to encourage classmates to showcase their original artwork, poetry, essays and fiction. Long interested in creative writing, Reed sought and received the blessing for his vision from Upper School Director Amanda McIlwain, then asked English teacher Laura Smith to be the club sponsor. Both were “extremely supportive and crucial to the club’s success.”
With Smith’s help, Reed recruited classmates to join him in the new project, and the new online Dunham Literary Journal Volume 1.1 was born. The club launched the first issue of the new journal in early January to rave reviews from classmates, faculty and administration.
In addition to Reed, members of the journal’s inaugural editorial staff include: Olivia Ashley ‘19, Garret Jones ’19, Eric Ponder ‘19, Ally Randall ’19, Madeleine Van Haute ’19, Daniel Bullock ’20, Ross Jones ’20, Victoria Saffell ’20, Samantha Li ’21, Paul Landry ’22, Suhita Rachamallu ’22, Catherine Van Haute ’22.
Many of the pieces included in Issue 1.1 began in literature and art classrooms across campus. During the fall semester, staff members edited student submissions for clarity and mechanics, uploaded the work to their Google site and worked together to proofread the site for consistent formatting.
The online format allows students to easily share their work with family and friends. Inclusion of original student artwork was inspired by examples of professional literary journals that Smith shared with club members. “Many of those journals use visual art to complement written work. The students thought it would be fun to showcase the wonderful art produced at Dunham,” Smith said. “The artwork in this journal was not created to accompany the written pieces; rather, our student editors worked to pair visual and written pieces with similar themes.”
“Getting to start and lead my own club focused on a topic of interest has been a valuable experience for me in many ways,” Reed said. “People do write in their spare time, but might need encouragement or a clear opportunity to do anything with it. Hopefully, the club will encourage those who are writing or thinking of writing to do more of it and send it to us.”
Work on the next issue of the Dunham Literary Journal has already begun, with plans to publish a new issue once a semester, depending on student availability and submissions.
“The journal promotes and fosters student creativity. Creative writing allows for personal reflection and reinforces many of the analytical skills we practice across disciplines at Dunham. Through creative writing, students learn to think critically about what rhetorical skills are at their disposal to communicate as clearly and meaningfully as possible,” said Smith. “Hopefully this issue will inspire other students to submit. I hope our club can continue to grow and develop alongside student work.”