ISU Literary Review, purple margin, plans to launch its second issue under its new name at the STARS event on Thursday, April 7. The literary journal celebrates 45 years of literary art at ISU and 40 issues of creative work. Regina Ivy, 2021-2022 Editor-in-Chief, talks about the history of the journal and the courage that comes with storytelling.
When I was in high school, my senior year, I was fascinated to browse the yearbook archives. It was fun to pick a random student from a yearbook and track their high school career through each publication. It was interesting to see how the building has evolved over the years through pictures. Watching styles change, watching the inevitable hair loss of long-serving teachers who still walk the building today. I may not have known the majority of these faces that I saw in these directories, but I knew that each one of them was based on the history and the heritage of a place established long before even that I get there – and which is still under construction. today.
A similar feeling came over me as I browsed through the archives of literary journals here at ISU. established as Alchemist Review in 1977 on this campus – which was then Sangamon State University – this literary journal helped to preserve the heritage of this university. These archives tell the story of a community of young writers who are not afraid to draw attention to subjects deemed “taboo” in the public space and do not care about the language they use for the To do. These pages feature the best authors and artists who aren’t afraid of a little intimacy – of being specific, personal, up close. They weren’t afraid to get a little weird, unreal and surreal.
In the spring of 1977, Alchemist Review publishes his first collection of works. In this collection was a piece called “The Minotaur”. The play follows the conversation between a girl and a beast she later discovers is a minotaur while questioning again and again “but which half of you is the beast?” This fall “Death’s Wishbone” was released, a brash and explicit account of life’s last days from the perspective of a bitter old man left in a nursing home. The 1979 issue offers us an excerpt from a science fiction space opera that recalls Dunes.
In 1980, the poem “White Woman” simply said, “I’ve had enough of black awareness rallies.” He references the 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case, which ultimately ruled that racial quotas in college admissions were unconstitutional. The 1990 issue features the story of a young white protagonist witnessing the attack of a young black boy at the Illinois State Fair Parade – the story is not shy about unfolding in Springfield, with details that are unique only to our city that both bring it to life and keep the story grounded in reality.
2005 brings a poem about a blind man. He plays the accordion in front of the Old Capital with a case that has a worn sticker that says, “today something beautiful could happen”. In 2015, an essay titled “Discovering Bewilderness-lite at the Grand Canyon Estates” invites readers to question our methods of preserving Earth’s beauty: “Earth is a place,” the essay states. “Our attempts to divide it, even to save it, show that we don’t really believe in it.”
“A Letter from a Cynic to a Rebel” is a tender, romantic and deeply personal piece from the 2020 issue of Alchemist Review it shows that even the most bitter worldview cannot stand in the way of the embrace and company of someone you love – perhaps a good message for the world in 2020.
It goes without saying that I am so proud to be part of the story of a literary journal that takes risks – that is not afraid to be atypical, atypical, crude, atypical. In 2020, Alchemist Review would become purple margina literary journal that continues to emphasize those same qualities – the experiences that lie on the “margins” of our existences.
Academic literary journals are some of the world’s most underrated literary sources, but this year we’re celebrating what lurks in the margins by publishing our second issue as purple margin and 40 issues of literary journals at ISU. Over the past 45 years, those involved in the literary arts at ISU have proven themselves to be bold, courageous and ready to make their voices heard.