If you have read the Arts and Entertainment page — and who are we kidding, of course you have — you know this year is the 50th anniversary of the Penguin Review, YSU’s only print literary magazine.
To celebrate this milestone, Penguin Review is releasing a commemorative issue dubbed, “Penguin Review: 50 Years in Review.” It will collect some of the best pieces published in the magazine over the past 50 years.
But the release of this issue of the Penguin Review will also commemorate the second issue the Penguin Review has released without consistent, set funding from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
Much like The Jambar itself, the Penguin Review used to be funded through the university each year. This is how the magazine supported its annual publication and compensated the editors for their work.
However, this funding was cut in 2013.
Now while we at The Jambar are rolling around on the fat stacks YSU practically throws at us, the Penguin Review must support itself alone through everything from bake sales to grant applications to donations.
Though many student-run organizations on campus also support themselves independently through similar methods — and this of course is commendable as well — the Penguin Review had relied on this lifeline to pay for print and their other expenses for 48 years.
That rug was pulled out from under them suddenly, and it is a remarkable feat that the magazine was able to hold together so well.
As another piece of student print media, albeit a significantly different one, we can say with certainty that we simply would not survive if this happened to us.
Thanks to the effort of the current staff at the Penguin Review, they did not crumble, but instead they were able to produce both their traditional annual issue last spring and now a second special edition this semester. The co-editors of the literary magazine said they spent, on average, 15 to 25 hours each week throughout this year and closer to 35 hours in the weeks of production.
It is easy enough to be dismissive of this commitment, as we are all full-time students who are also throwing their minimal time into building resumes, but this group is providing a legitimate service to students of YSU without compensation and without consistent financial support from the university. Along with Jenny Magazine, the Penguin Review offers budding creatives at YSU a chance to submit their work anonymously and begin their daunting trip through the cutthroat world of creative writing in a lower-pressure environment.
It gives many creatives their first chance to really prove their skill. Essentially these literary magazines are a crucial stepping stone for an entire slice of the YSU community. And it is not an inexpensive pursuit — costing $1,500 to print each edition of Penguin Review, which is offered to the public for free by the group.
Of course, none of this would have been possible if not for The Jambar, who bravely provides the Penguin Review office, which is right down the hall from us, with printer paper. You’re welcome.
Anyway, we give our kudos to the Penguin Review for their tenacity and loyalty to this pursuit — when others would simply have allowed the ship to sink — as well as other student groups, such as Jenny Magazine and the Student Government Association, who provide a service to the university on their own time. In general, if you are a student who adds to the YSU community, pat yourself on the back — no, actually pat yourself on the back, we will know if you don’t.
Congratulations on your 50th anniversary Penguin Review; you deserve to celebrate.