The Delta Journal began as a literary page in The Reveille, but in 1947, Charles East, a Reveille features editor, decided to create an independent undergraduate literary publication, and founded The Delta Journal that is still in publication sixty-eight years later. Designed as a “medium of expression for student literary output”, The Delta Journal boasts some notable contributors over the decades, including Robert Penn Warren, John Ed Bradley, movie critic Rex Reed, and nature photographer C. C. Lockwood.
LSU Creative Writing recently discussed The Delta Journal with current undergrad editors, Samantha Bares, and Brent Thibodeaux, in a Q & A interview as we continue our blog series, LSU Creative Writing: Past, Present, and Future.
LSU CWP: Tell us some things about The Delta Journal that people may not be aware of. Who is eligible to submit their work? Is submission, or participation limited to English Majors? What genres comprise the contents of the Delta Journal?
Brent T.: Beyond existing for almost sixty-eight years, the Delta Literary Journal offers undergraduates at LSU a plethora of various opportunities in which to exercise and develop their writing and editing abilities in a non-threatening and unpretentious environment. The journal brings like-minded and passionate artists together and exposes them to the realities and responsibilities that are inherently tied to running a literary journal. All LSU undergraduates are eligible to submit their work–not just English Majors. We publish poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and visual art.
Samantha B.: The Delta Undergraduate Literary Journal is, and has always been, edited and produced by and for LSU undergraduates. We only employ and publish the work of LSU undergraduates, of any major. We accept submissions in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art.
LSU CWP: What was your inspiration/incentive for becoming editor of a prestigious, sixty-eight year old student publication?
Samantha B.: My inspiration for becoming an editor of Delta Journal was the journal itself! Two years ago, I went to a fundraiser for Delta. After a year attending every event Delta put on, sharing my work at readings and participating as an audience member, I loved being a part of our arts community. Then my poetry was published in Vol. 55. From there, I was fiction editor for Vol. 56, and now Editor in Chief for Vol. 57. It’s been one of the most enriching experiences of my college career.
Brent T.: My incentive is my persistent urge to better my craft and to help others who share that same passion for writing better themselves. Without a community to support and assist during the revision process, the writer falls short of polishing his/her work to its maximum potential.
LSU CWP? : Over the years, quite a few of The Delta’s contributors have become well known, if not famous. Do you ever imagine that some of the student talent discovered within The Delta’s pages will one day become best-selling authors, Oscar winning screen writers, or famous photographers, yourself included?
Brent T.: I do not doubt that some of our contributors will go off and achieve great things in whatever their future endeavors may be, but the reality is that gaining the right exposure and establishing oneself in the art world is an extremely difficult enterprise. Nevertheless, getting involved early with other writers and furthering one’s abilities to critique and revise will surely place them at an advantage with their artistic pursuits.
Samantha B.: I think it’s definitely possible. The work we publish is from the best and brightest young writers and artists in the state, some of whom have gone on to prestigious graduate programs at Syracuse, University of Iowa, and Notre Dame, to name a few.
LSU CWP: Based on your experiences working on this publication, what can you take with you once you graduate from LSU? How valuable has this editorial experience been to your college career?
Samantha B.: This editorial experience has opened possibilities for me already, in that I’m now a workshop facilitator for a new nonprofit here in Baton Rouge called New South Story Lab, along with one of our fiction editors, Nicholas Molbert. It’s been an incredible growing experience for my writing, as well, preparing me for a career of enthusiastic participation in arts communities. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without it.
Brent T.: After graduation, I know I’ll take satisfaction in having developed my abilities as a writer and editor as well as having helped preserve one of the few gems LSU has to offer to undergraduate writers and artists. The people I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work with have inspired and taught me tremendously; those connections will always remain precious to me and will persist long into the future.
LSU CWP: What advice/encouragement can you offer future editors of, and contributors to, the Delta Journal? What are your hopes for the future of this literary magazine?
Brent T.: To future editors and contributors: communicate, reach out, stay determined, and never, as artists, cease to be heard. My hopes for the future of this journal are ineffable. I hope the journal continues to endure, grow, and teach young artists how to enhance the quality of their craft and ground them for success.
Samantha B.: To the future editors: everything’s going to work out! Working the way we do, curating and editing a journal while fighting to raise funds for publication year in, year out, it sometimes feels like an impossible task. But professors, mentors, and others in our writing community help however they can. We’ve managed to do this since 1947. We’ll be doing it until LSU is dust. To future contributors: Just know that everyone is nervous their first (and second, and fifteenth) time submitting their work to a journal. But it’s not half as scary as you think.
My hope for the journal is that it doesn’t just continue to exist, but thrives in an environment ever-hostile to the arts. We are a vital part of our community– not just because young creatives need publications like ours– but because every community needs the arts. I hope we publish well into the 22nd century, or at least until journals are telepathically beamed into the minds of readers (finally saving us the cost of paper).
Samantha Bares and Brent Thibodeaux are both senior Creative Writing English Majors.