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Michigan Avenue Journal Gives Creative Students Opportunities to Shine

Have you ever dreamed of having your creative writing, poetry, or artwork printed and published? The Michigan Avenue Creative Arts Journal is HFCC’s outlet for the artistic side of every student and faculty member, whether their forte is writing or art. “Its [purpose is] primarily to uncover and discover and highlight and celebrate the talent of our students,” Ruth Ann Schmidt said of the publication’s main objective. She has been the editor since the journal began two years ago.

Michigan Avenue’s predecessor, Goodwheels, focused more on students involved in creative writing classes. Schmitt expanded on Goodwheels’s concept of a creative outlet for students by making Michigan Avenue open to all talented student writers, and getting visual artists too. “The Journal is a celebration of artwork, writing, all forms of writing, [and] all forms of artwork we can present on paper form; we’ve not advanced to include the music yet!” she said of Michigan Avenue.

The faculty members that put together the Journal are not really looking for anything specific; they especially want to see the wide range of creativity the student body has to offer. “We take everything that we see good quality in, sometimes the more unique the better, but we accept everything,” said Schmitt of works that could potentially be published. There is a lot of freedom involved in submissions, since there are no rules prohibiting any style. “We will look at and read and take anything, but we will only accept those things that we see artistic merit in,” she said.

In conglomeration with the Journal, there is an annual creative writing contest that has been awarding writers for more than 30 years. The Barrett Creative Writing Contest gives out about $500 annually for top works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose and drama. Winners are also published in the Journal, and writers will get the chance to read their winning entries to the public at the end of April. Submission information can be found on Michigan Avenue’s website. The deadline for those entries is March 1.

There are other ways work can end up published in the Journal, too. Student artwork featured in the art shows will also have a chance at publication. Students who are not part of the art program or do not enter the Barrett Contest are more than welcome and encouraged to submit their own works online. Entry guidelines are posted on Michigan Avenue’s website, The deadline for submissions is December 30.

Another way art and prose could be published in Michigan Avenue is by sending work to the Mirror News’s own “Through Our Looking Glass” section. Last year, student editors chose the best works from the “Looking Glass” and those entries were published in this year’s Journal. Students interested in being featured in the “Looking Glass” should check out that section’s submission guidelines in the newspaper.

Copies of the 2011 Journal are now available to be picked up at the HFCC library’s circulation desk for free. Schmitt strongly advises any student who is interested to check it out for examples of published work. Included are 43 examples of student paintings, drawings, ceramics, photography and sculpture, as well as 16 writing pieces of drama, fiction and non-fiction, and 31 poems ranging from haikus and sonnets to free verse. There are also a few faculty entries, including poetry written by Betsy Coen and Peter Putnam, both of whom are English instructors at the college. HFCC’s Director of Communications, Gary Erwin, has contributed a piece of fiction called “The Monthly Rent.”

Ms. Schmitt spends a lot of time putting the Journal together each year, but the hard work is very rewarding and reminds her how talented our student body is. “I am always enlightened by the amount of diversity, and I always learn from my students, in terms of the diversity and experiences they bring to the classroom. Their lives are very different and their childhoods are very different from my own, and so I would say one of the great things about the magazine is just how diverse it is.”

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