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Literary magazine celebrates 25th anniversary

May 24, 2012

Twenty-five years ago, graduate students in ASU’s brand-new MFA in creative writing program had an idea: why not start a literary magazine?

The students needed funds, of course, so they went to the English Department, where creative writing was housed, to ask. No extra money was available, so the students turned to Student Media, home of the State Press.

“Bruce Itule and I jumped on it,” recalled Salima Keegan. “Bruce was very enthusiastic and Student Media was doing well, so he funded it for the first year and I volunteered my time.”

Itule was then director of Student Media, and Keegan was his assistant. After the first issue, Keegan began writing grant proposals and raising funds to put the magazine on a sound financial footing. She served as managing editor for the next 20 years.

Now, Hayden’s Ferry Review is celebrating its 25th anniversary with its record 300-page 50th issue, themed of “Regarding Artifacts.” Beth Staples is the managing editor, and hundreds of writers and artists have seen their work in print.

Plus, numerous students have had the opportunity to serve as magazine editors and learn more about what sets good writing apart from bad.

For the 50th issue, the editors put out the following call for “artifact” submissions

“Art is, by its nature, a record. Literature, photographs, paintings, music, all these seek to catalogue the world just as they seek to elevate and transform it. A piece of art is also then, by its nature, an artifact: an object with unique meaning both within its context and apart from it.

“For our 50th issue, we’re interested in investigating how fragments and relics from our history help us to shape our current state of being. What happens when you wrest an object from its homeland (in time, place, state of mind)? Why do we trust remnants of the past as distinctively truthful, and how do we inevitably misunderstand them?

“Consider that work banned in one country develops a new set of meaning in other places. Consider how artifacts shape the identities of people, nations, cultures. Consider the lives of fraudulent artifacts, objects that create invented histories and narratives.”

The cover art for the 50th issue is a photo titled “History’s Shadow GM3” by David Maisel, from his series of re-photographed X-rays of sculpture and artifacts from antiquity.

The call for “artifacts” yielded a wide variety of submissions, including banned photographs from Ethiopia; an interview with author David Shields, who edited, with Matthew Vollmer, a book title “Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters and ‘Found’ Texts”; photos of religious relics; part of a novel by Baalu Girma, translated for the first time from Ethiopian into English; and “artifacts” from the editors’ favorite writers, such as notebook entries, poem drafts and playful writing, that are “reminders both of the inspiration behind – and the work of – writing.”

As managing editor, Staples selects MFA student editors who help with solicitation and choose works and photos. “They do two issues, then I choose new ones,” she said.

Staples said her job is “a dream come true” for her. “I really like working with writers and artists. I’ve learned about what makes writing good, and I’ve learned a lot about stuff I didn’t want to learn about. Being a managing editor requires me to wear many hats, some of which I love – reading submissions, working with authors, and some of which I’ve had to teach myself to do even if they aren’t fulfilling in quite the same way – managing subscriptions, writing contracts, finding new ways to market and sell copies.”

Staples herself holds an MFA in creative writing from ASU and has a novel in progress. She also writes short stories and teaches at ASU and Mesa Community College.

Though university budgets have been tight in the last few years, Hayden’s Ferry Review has managed to continue, albeit with some unwanted changes.

“We have had to stop paying contributors and raise the subscription rate,” Staples said. But the magazine, named by the first editors in honor of Tempe’s first name, Hayden’s Ferry, continues to attract submissions and publish magazines of 180 to 220 pages twice a year.

Subscriptions are $25 per year, for two issues. Single copies are $13 (which includes postage). For more information about submitting work or subscribing, go to or send an e-mail to

Hayden’s Ferry Review is published by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU.

Hayden's Ferry Review has won numerous awards in the past few years, including the following:

• ”Dredge” by Matt Bell appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 2011
• ”We Show What We Have Learned” by Claire Beams appeared in Best American NonRequired Reading 2011
• ”Wreck” by Janine Joseph appear in Best New Poets 2011
• “The Company She Keeps” by Halina Duraj listed as a “notable essay” in Best American Essays 2011
• “For All the Ladies in my Mother’s Book Group” by Julianna Baggott listed as a “notable essay” in Best American Essays 2010
• “Amanuensis” by Stephen Tuttle and “Don’t Look Away” by Urban Waite in Best of the West 2009
• “Sex and the Single Eight-Year-Old” by Bethany Tyler Lee listed as a “notable essay” in Best American Essays 2009
• “Instead of the Rat Pack” by Gwendolyn Knapp appeared in Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume 2