Once a week students meet to read page after page of writings, looking for the best pieces to publish in Rowan’s undergraduate literary magazine, Avant. The tradition started in the 60s with Avant’s founding. The magazine is made by undergraduate students from cover to cover. Every piece is a work of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction written by Rowan students, which is critiqued by our student editors. The artwork and layout is also done by club members. Today Avant is the second longest running club on campus!
I entered Avant’s story my freshman year. I attended the semester’s first meeting with my friend Laura Foley, a sophomore Musical Theater and History major, and immediately I was hooked. Laura remembers the first meeting as it is one of her favorite Avant memories:
“We met in a different room back then and they made sure to make room at the table that was already filled.” When they ran out of table chairs, people started pushing up couches and lounge chairs so everyone could talk and be heard. It was a small gesture, but one that made us feel welcome.
Even when we get down to work reading submissions, discussing, and voting, there is an excitement and energy that lasts the night. It’s natural when you put people passionate about something together, they’re going to nerd out about it to each other. Finding Avant was like finding a room full of people that love the same TV show I do, but the TV show is creative writing. Despite the focus on the magazine, Avant retains “levity” as our assistant editor, senior RTF major Mark Krupinski, puts it. Before the meetings we watch YouTube videos and between pieces there is always somebody making a joke. My personal favorite moments come from prompt nights when we take a break and write some pieces ourselves. We’ve had stories about unassuming guys dating girls with three eyes and eight arms to school yard fights that end in supernovas. Whether it’s typical night of reading or a fun prompt night, Mark says he’s with “a collection of people who truly care about what they’re doing, that’s for sure.”
After sharing a few nights like that, the prospect of submitting my own writing for older students to read and critique seemed a bit less intimidating. The fact Avant reads every submission anonymously helped too. Putting your own creation up for others to judge will always be scary. My first semester, I had a piece accepted and I had a piece voted to resubmit, which meant I needed to make revisions and submit again. An Avant member, who has since graduated, sat with me, went through the comments one by one and added her own, too. I learned a lot from revising and correcting faults that I wouldn’t have seen without Avant’s critique. Despite the ups and downs, there was nothing more satisfying than getting that piece printed in the magazine after a resubmitting two or three times.
I’ve been with Avant for three semesters now, and I’m still learning. Besides from having more accepted and more resubmit pieces, I’ve joined the e-board (executive board.) I would have to agree with fellow e-board member, English Major Vanessa Landaverde, when she says, “It’s both interesting and very difficult.” We’ve gone from being freshman to the upperclassmen we once looked up to. Honestly, my life here at Rowan wouldn’t be the same without the meetings, experiences, and friends Avant has given me. I’ve grown as a writer and a person. I’d like to give those same experiences to other students and be part of the welcoming presence I felt when I first came to Avant. For all the members, it’s our little corner of Rowan, and we wish to share it with anyone who joins us or picks up a copy of Avant.
Story by: Laura Kincaid, Swedesboro, NJ (Gloucester County)
Sophomore writing arts major