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Behind the scenes of Mercer's literary magazine

The last four annual issues of The Dulcimer. The most recent publication's theme was "Labyrinth."
The last four annual issues of The Dulcimer. The most recent publication's theme was "Labyrinth."

Behind the roughly 100 pages of Mercer University’s literary arts magazine, The Dulcimer, lies hours of work from a team of students who build the annually-published, award-winning publication.

The magazine, which has been in print since 1966, accepts art of most forms, including but not limited to poetry, short stories, memoirs, photography, paintings, digital art and graphics.

This year, the theme is "Myriad," which was decided by Editor-in-Chief Cecelia Poehlman.

The staff has accepted submissions starting early November up until the end of January, with their submission process coming to a close Jan. 29.

After the submissions close, the hard work begins for The Dulcimer staff.

“Art and literature have slightly different processes,” Poehlman said. “The committees made up of our club members will need to decide which pieces they like and which ones they don't."

For the art committee, submitted work is shown on a slideshow, and the group members vote on each work.

"The literary committee, on the other hand, has a bit more rigorous of a system," Poehlman said.

The two verbal submissions editors, who are in charge of written works, take turns compiling each submission into a document. Then, submissions are sent to the literary committee, and each member will vote on the submissions on a 10-point scale. The final scores are then sent to Poehlman.

Along with the art and literature committees, Poehlman noted more roles played in the making of The Dulcimer, including either the lead designer or a design team, two copyeditors, social media editor and digital archivist.

As editor-in-chief, Poehlman has many roles in the staff as well as the responsibilities she takes on to see The Dulcimer into fruition. 

"I personally am a very hands-off leader, but previous editors have been a lot more hands-on," Poehlman said. "It's my job to do whatever it takes on the administrative end to help (...) If that means I need to drive people places, I can do that. If it means I need to go talk with the Mercer administration, that's also my job."

Poehlman also notes that it's important for the editor-in-chief to have a diverse skill set, not just literary or artistic skill.

"Whoever I select to be the next editor-in-chief will be selected not just for their leadership skills and their ability to coordinate and keep the schedule, but also their personal aesthetic sense of taste," she said. "The editor-in-chief has the final say on what goes in the magazine and what it looks like.”

However, no matter how strong the staff or theme, a literary magazine comes down to the submissions it receives.

“We've also received a couple of short stories that, so far, I'm very excited to print," Poehlman said. "However, things don't have to match the theme to be worth printing. They just have to be good work. That's really all we're looking for in the end. Good work by Mercer students.”

For those interested in submitting pieces for Myriad, students can find more information on The deadline to submit is the end of the day Saturday, Jan 29. 


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