‘Understory’ accepting creative written works for 2018-19 edition

Another year, another anthology in the making. For many years, the English department has put together an “annual anthology of achievement” of creative works from UAA students called “Understory.”

The UAA English department’s yearly publication, Understory, is a collection of work from students all over UAA’s campus. Photo credit: Young Kim

“Understory” is currently accepting creative written works from prose to poetry to plays for their 2018-19 published edition. Even videos can be submitted and, if chosen, the link will be published in the book. There’s also a category specifically for creative nonfiction and photo essays that pertain to the topic of race, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

Students from any major are encouraged to submit their work. The only criteria that must be met is being enrolled in three or more credit hours in undergraduate studies at UAA.

Three English majors, Karen Nelson, Megan Medo and Alex Bako, are in the beginning processes of putting together “Understory.” Nelson and Medo are the interns for the project, and Bako, a former intern, is sticking around to help the two other women make sure the process goes smoothly. Two English professors, Ronald Spatz and David Bowie, are also a part of the process by overseeing it. The interns are in charge of reading through all the submissions, helping choose the best ones and editing them, whether it’s technical or small grammatical errors, with the author’s approval.

“I’m looking forward to learning more about [editing] and reading everyone’s work — that’s fun,” Medo said.

The amount of work that gets published varies by year. A few years ago, the submission acceptance was about 1 in 5, but last year all but about 10 pieces of work were published. It depends on how many get submitted and the quality of the work. The final paperback with the collected works is published in the spring.

For submissions, there is no limit on how many can be submitted, except for a max of five poems. Plays and videos are limited to no longer than 10 minutes in production length. The creative nonfiction and photo essay are capped at 7,500 words or less. When submitting, the writer’s full name and student ID is required in the subject line of the email, but that is all the identifying information that is needed.

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“The goal is to evaluate the work without the author’s name in it, [to have] no bias,” Bako said.

Nelson, Bako and Medo all said to “go for it” if students are thinking about whether to submit or not.

“We’re not in the business of telling you you’re a good writer or you’re a horrible writer,” Nelson said. “We’re in the business of supporting you in your writing.”

On Friday, Sept. 28, from 4 – 6 p.m., Understory will be holding a new event in the Campus Bookstore. A few writers who had their work published in the 2017-18 book will read their work at the event.

To be considered for the 2018-19 anthology, submit work to understorysubmissions@gmail.com by Tuesday, Oct. 30.

For questions, email Bowie at dbowie2@alaska.edu or Spatz at rmspatz@alaska.edu.