ATU’s literary journal, “Nebo,” printed its 40th Fall Issue last semester. Though Nebo is the name it is now known by, ATU has transitioned from other literary journals over the years.
ATU’s first literary journal was “The Aggie Arrow,” created shortly after the school’s founding. However, the publication only lasted a few issues between 1913 and 1914. ATU would not have another literary magazine until 1970 when the English and Foreign Language Departments began publishing the “Five Cent Cigar.”
The old journal, “Five Cent Cigar,” made the transition to the journal that we now know and love in 1983. “Five Cent Cigar” remained a localized journal during its years of publication, as it primarily featured poetry, prose, and artwork by ATU students, professors, and alumni. “Nebo” is cited to be more elaborate than the previous version of the journal, containing more genre diversity in the form of poetry and prose of all kinds from all over the country.
This expansion was due to an increase in funding at the time as well as an increase in the range of submissions. “Nebo,” of course, was named after Mt. Nebo that shares some geography close to ATU, but also Nebo is the Hebrew name for the god of Mercury, worshiped by the ancient Middle East as the celestial scribe and writer.
Special shoutout to Charity Park for her incredible rediscovery of ATU’s first literary journal, “The Aggie Arrow,” and a special thank you to the whole Ross Pendergraft Library staff for their help researching and cataloging the history of “Nebo.”
The beloved journal is still housed in the English and World Languages Department, headed by Dr. Carl Brucker. The faculty advisor is Dr. Mary Sharpe, one of the creative writing professors belonging to the department, and she has held this title since first coming to ATU in 2016. It is published twice a year, in the fall and spring semesters.
“I serve as Faculty Advisor, but my job is pretty hands-off. The editor, assistant editors and staff readers do 100% of the work of reading submissions, selecting pieces to publish and laying out/designing the issue itself,” said Sharpe.
The editor of the celebratory 40th issue was Chad Hall, senior English education and creative writing major from Siloam Springs, Arkansas. “When selecting pieces for the Fall 2020 issue of Nebo, I didn’t really have a guiding thought or goal that I wanted the issue to accomplish. While the broad theme of the issue of change, both literal and metaphorical, the only real change that I wanted to showcase was a change in what literary journals, like “Nebo,” publish. With “Nebo,” I sought to highlight writers who exist on the outside of what other journals might consider the mainstream,” said Hall.
“I am proud to say that the Fall 2020 issue features work from throughout the United States as well as around the world, from Ireland to Switzerland to Kenya to Nigeria. Many of the perspectives featured are ones rarely read, ones that I believe need to be considered just as important as the more popular reads,” said Hall.
Though submissions may not have been as booming as they normally are due to the pandemic, the experiences that writers were having contributed to Hall’s curation of one of the most diverse issues that has been printed.
“From the real life experience of an incarcerated writer in state prison during the COVID-19 pandemic, to translated verses of poetry from the heart of India, the Fall 2020 issue of Nebo is a stitched together collection of the most unique and out-of-the-box writing one can find out there, and I hope that they accurately represent just how far “Nebo” has come in the 40 years since its first fall issue,” said Hall.
The breadth of content is not the only thing that sets this 40th issue apart from the others. “Lots of colleges have literary reviews but most are limited to publishing only work by students and faculty at that school. “Nebo” is different because, while it usually includes pieces written by ATU-affiliated writers, it also accepts submissions from everyone, at any phase in their writing career and in any part of the world. Of those college journals that also accept submissions from beyond the campus gates, they tend to be edited by faculty members and/or professional editors while undergraduate students stand on the sidelines, serving as assistants vs. editors,” said Sharpe.
It is important to allow not only those in the ATU community, but also those globally to get the chance to gain experience writing and start building a publishing record. Also, because it is a student-led entity, it allows students the unique opportunity of honing their editing skills as well, if that is a career or field they are interested in pursuing.
“I encourage anyone interested in reading, writing, and/or editing to get involved with “Nebo!” Current ATU students interested in serving as part of the “Nebo” staff can sign up for ENGL 2881: Editing the Literary Journal. This is a practicum course in which students read and vote on submissions for one hour a week. Once a student has completed this class, they can sign up for the higher-level “Nebo” courses, which vary in terms of credit hours and course level. Students with 45 credit hours or more can apply for the position of editor, which is a three-hour course and comes with a $1,000 scholarship,” said Sharpe.
Contact email@example.com for more information. For those writers and artists out there, submit your writing (any genre) and art to “Nebo!” Submission guidelines can be found at www.atu.edu/worldlanguages/Nebo.php