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New edition of COIL is ‘diverse issue with diverse voices’

Barry McNamara
From left: Isaac Willis, Abigail Danner, Lily Guillen, Morgan Osman and David Wright.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – With the publication of COIL, a torch has been passed, said David Wright, the magazine’s faculty adviser.

The 2017-18 COIL was the second of the arts and literature magazine’s 23 volumes that Wright oversaw. He’d worked with editor-in-chief Isaac Willis ’18 of Morton, Ill, and art and design editor Lily Guillen ’18 of Round Lake Beach, Ill., on the previous issue. They were assisted on this issue by literary editors Abigail Danner ’19 of Tremont, Ill., and Morgan Osman ’20 of Oswego, Ill.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the work these students have done,” said Wright, an assistant professor of English. “The writers, the artists and then the editorial staff have just done wonderful work. It’s been great to have experienced students like Isaac and Lily leading out and to have other students coming up behind them, like Morgan and Abby, learning the ropes.”

Willis said this year’s COIL is very diverse in several ways.

“I’m especially proud that this year’s issue takes into account more genres, more styles, more art forms,” said Willis, an English and philosophy major, who also has five poems published in the magazine. “We have a play, we have an interview with a visiting writer, we have poems and short stories as usual, (we have) a short, creative non-fiction piece and then all the different mediums of visual art that are represented. It’s just really a diverse issue with diverse voices.”

Guillen’s design work adds to the visual appeal of the magazine, said Wright.

“Lily’s amazing,” he said. “She’s got a beautiful eye. She’s a wonderful artist in her own right, but she’s a really fine book designer. She pulled together artistic images, photographs, but also journalistic photos – magazine-quality photos – of people doing the work. If there’s one thing I’d like COIL to highlight, it’s the process of making things on campus, whether that’s visual art or a magazine or poems or stories or pieces of fiction. It’s really been wonderful to have Lily represent that visually, as well as the text.”

For the cover, Guillen used erasure, a form of found poetry created by erasing words from an existing text in prose or verse and framing the result on the page as a poem.

“The main source of inspiration was there were a lot of erasure projects that had been done throughout the year, starting with David Wright’s SOFIA (Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activities) project,” said Guillen, an art major with a journalism minor. “We also did an erasure workshop at the dinner and devotion at the beginning of the semester, so I thought it would be cool to include that on the cover. The (cover) photograph – I actually took it last semester of (senior) Kayla Adams. We were thinking of having a black-and-white cover, so I thought that was a nice, powerful image that related to a lot of the poetry and prose that was in the magazine.”

Not only is the look of the magazine important, but Willis said there’s also an art in trying to organize the various works in “a coherent manner” for the reader.

“I learned that the editorial process is long and arduous and worth all the work,” said Willis, who also edited the College’s recently published Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research. “It’s like a puzzle when you first start. We laid out every submission on the floor and pieced together the edges and the frames to see ‘Is this poem working next to this image?’ At the end of the day, though, it becomes more like a narrative, as much as disparate works of art can be.”

Wright said that learning how to produce an arts magazine is a valuable learning experience.

“That’s the real fun part for the editors – to lay all that out and to see which pieces are talking to which pieces, which photograph talks to which poem,” said Wright. “You end up with a reading experience that you can jump in and read each piece individually, or you can read it straight through and really hear resonances throughout the whole magazine.”

Wright said he’s “grateful” to the College for supporting the type of work found in COIL, as well as the independent student newspaper, The Courier, and the Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research.

“Students really have an opportunity to get the nuts and bolts of editing, to have some vision, to learn how to lead other people,” he said.

To obtain a copy of COIL, email