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FEATURE: Riverside City College’s Literary and Art Journal to have annual launch June

Professor James Ducat, and the editing team from MUSE hold copies of previous books MUSE has published in their new space in the Writing and Reading Center (WRC) in the Martin Luther King Building at Riverside City College on May 24. Photo by Stephen Day, Viewpoints.

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By Jazmyn De Jesus

Riverside City College’s MUSE Literary and Arts Journal is a network for creative writers in our community.

RCC students professionally edit and publish the journal themselves each year.

While some may have only heard of it as a class or a place to submit creative works, those behind the journal feel their work is extremely important.

The 2023 Muse Literary and Arts Journal will be published on June 8. This will be an addition to nearly 30 years worth of journals that line the cabinets in the newly established MUSE space located in the Writing and Reading Center (WRC).

“This year is really great because we have this space, which we got literally just this semester,” exclaimed James Ducat, adviser of MUSE and instructor of the literary magazine course where the students learn to publish the book.

While the space that is provided is not yet finished and only recently got power for lights and electronics, it is an exciting prospect for MUSE to be more available for student participation.

What started off as a club in the ‘80s, the now student-led publication evolves each year under Ducat’s instruction.

“Ducat always mentions that this is our most diverse issue ever,” MUSE editor Sierra Williams said.

According to the editors, over 400 submissions were received. This has set a record for MUSE that has been growing over the years.

The process of going through each submission can be daunting for students, but the challenge has allowed them to grow as writers and professionals.

“The way we select, we pretty much do a blind cold-reading and decide if we like it or we don’t. Then we start to narrow it down,” said a senior editor, who prefers to go by Alphonso.

Their blind reading strategy and an influx of submissions resulted in more RCC student authors and artists being featured than ever before.

MUSE’s editors said that being a part of this publication is truly a “pre-professional experience” that is important for writers at RCC to recognize and participate in if possible.

“A lot of people hear ‘literary journal’ and think it’s a silly thing, but we’re trying to reach out more to the community this time around,” senior editor of MUSE Jennifer Florez said.

This year, Florez was able to attend a conference in Washington hosted by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs to represent MUSE courtesy of the Associated Students of Riverside City College.

Writers and instructors from all over attend and connect with each other during the conference. The event made Florez take her participation in MUSE more seriously.

“Most of the people I met and spoke to were grad students,” she said. “I’d show them our book and they were kind of surprised at how well established we are for a community college.” 

Adreana Muñoz, a first-year student editor, feels that to have the opportunity to do pre-professional work on campus has been a great benefit for many writers and editors. 

“You have to adapt as you go because you don’t know who will be in the class. This could also happen in a workplace, so it’s taught me a lot of useful skills,” Muñoz said.

Collaborating creatively, making decisions on what pieces get selected and how they will be revised and reaching out to submitters during the process are just some of the responsibilities these editors have.

Alphonso shares that butting heads is part of the process. All the editors agree that their motivation allows them to push through.

“As we power through each class, there’s another accomplishment. It’s fulfilling to now have a final product,” said Brett Bachman who has now participated in two MUSE journals.

On June 8, MUSE will be hosting a launch party in celebration of their book release on-campus in Quad 127 and 128.

While MUSE continues to grow at RCC, more creative outreach and recognition for the artists who contribute to the journal each year will spread as well.

“We’re not just one spot on the map, but a bigger thing that can branch out into other people’s lives,” said Florez.

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