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Journal lets writers spread wings

January 15, 2008

ASU’s Emeritus College did not intend to publish a journal. But when its writers’ group gave readings, everyone said, “We should publish these,” says Charles Brownson, a member of the college.

And so Emeritus Voices was born, with Brownson as its founding editor.

The inaugural edition, published recently both electronically and in print, includes fiction, poetry, memoirs and scholarly articles.

Brownson says the journal has an easygoing submission policy, adding: “Our purpose is to be as inclusive as we can. We responded to the interests of people who wanted to contribute. Since it’s for us, at this stage it will not be marketed. It’s a way for us to talk to each other.”

Brownson says one of the major purposes of the journal – and the writers group that was active before it – “is to allow people to expand into their secondary interests, to let the alternative personality out – to spread their wings.”

So, in this issue of Emeritus Voices, for example, there are stories by emeritus professors Harvey Smith (mathematics) and Stanley Smith (journalism), and poems by Babs Gordon (English) and Richard Jacob (physics).

Also included are memoirs by W. Walsh Doane (life sciences), Mary Riege Laner (sociology) and Evelyn Spiers Wiseman (special education).

Brownson was a librarian at ASU for 25 years. He also writes fiction and is a photographer He says memoir-writing has been the most popular genre at the Emeritus College writers’ groups.

“For some writers, the memoir is especially rewarding, but it’s harder to do that it may seem,” he says. “In trying to put the truth about oneself in writing for others to read, people sometimes discover a need to write well to make better sense of their lives. So these projects can be slow and arduous – and possibly even traumatic.”

For others such as Wiseman, who has written a long, personal story about Sammy the cat (who came to live with her family in 1938 in San Luis, Ariz.), the process is more playful.

The journal will be published twice a year, in April and October.

“There will be 100 hard copies for subscription sales,” Brownson says. “It wasn’t meant to be a print journal, but it got to be print because of (former dean) Dick Jacobs’ request for copies to put in development packages.”

College members were pleased with the first issue, Brownson says, adding: “It reflected well on the people involved.”

The next issue will be slightly larger, with art in addition to the literary work, he says.

As far as Brownson knows, Emeritus Voices is the only such journal of its kind.

“Very few universities have newsletters of distinction either, as we do,” he says.

To read Emeritus Voices online, visit the Web site and select Emeritus College Journal.