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National Literary Journal Housed at Taylor

  • By: Abigail Franklin
  • Published:
cover of 2022 Relief Journal

At Taylor, students have the opportunity to get involved in resume-building activities that extend past the campus borders. The English Program houses Relief Journal, a national literary journal of art and faith, and Taylor students make up the majority of the staff.

Where Art and Faith Collide

Relief highlights artists of faith who are unafraid to grapple with the unpleasant realities of a fallen world, publishing works of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and comics. It has published authors like Gary D. Schmidt, Natasha Oladokun, Tania Runyan, D.L. Mayfield, and Amy Peterson. Relief receives submissions from all over the country.

Associate Professor of English Daniel Bowman Jr. serves as editor-in-chief. The masthead includes Professor of English Aaron Housholder as the fiction editor and Associate Professor of English Julie Moore as the poetry editor. 

Relief was started in the Chicago area over a decade ago. Bowman served as the fiction editor for Relief and in 2016, the founders were ready to move on. Bowman stepped into the editor-in-chief position and brought Relief to Upland.

“The magazine means a lot to people in the art and faith world,” Bowman said. “It means a lot to people to say that we have a faith-based magazine that’s literary.”

As editor-in-chief, Bowman oversees the genre and managing editors, teaches the class students can enroll in every spring, and makes sure that every edition of Relief represents its mission of celebrating the place where art and faith collide. 

Students on Staff

Every spring, English students who have been on staff for Parnassus, the campus literary journal, are eligible to join the staff of Relief. It is offered as a 400 level class, designed to challenge students to engage with the making of art as part of a much larger community.

“It’s a huge differentiator, not just in the CCCU but in any four-year liberal arts college,” Bowman said of running a national magazine at the undergraduate level. “Most colleges have a campus journal, but almost none have a national journal. Usually students get their first crack at being on staff at a national literary journal in graduate school at bigger universities.”

Students on staff read and discuss submissions, engage in conversations about what makes good art, and listen to visiting speakers who are often writers and the genre editors for Relief

English major Jenna King has been on staff with Relief for three years. She learned about Relief and the literary publishing sequence during her visit as an accepted student

“It's fun to see that every year the staff of Relief is different and the people that are there bring different opinions, different views, different perspectives and different ideas,” said King.

Bowman encourages students to get involved more broadly in the literary journal world, not just in Relief. Every spring, he assigns students to research a different literary journal and learn about their process and publication niche.

“Working on a magazine makes you better,” Bowman said. “If you’re always submitting pieces, that’s one way of being in the literary world. But when you’re on the other side of the desk and reading people’s work and you see how it could be better in the blink of an eye, that makes you better for your own work. It makes you a stronger writer.”

Art Happens Everywhere

Moving Relief to Taylor meant a lot to Bowman. An avid lover of what he calls “Middle America,” he cares deeply about the art happening all over the country, not just in major cities. The cover for the 2022 issue of Relief features an image of a ruined church in a cornfield in Jay County, Indiana (showed above).

“I think [that cover] is really good,” Bowman said. “That was just around the corner from Taylor. When was the last time a photograph from that area was on the front of a national publication? Probably never. So it's fun that we can do that.”

Giving students a window into the wider literary world is one of the things that Bowman appreciates most about having students on staff. Art is happening everywhere, including Upland, Indiana, and he wants students to know that they can be a part of it and that there is a whole community of people who value art and faith the way they do.

Explore English at Taylor University 

King encourages students who want to study English to embrace the unique literary publishing opportunities at Taylor. 

“Do Parnassus, talk to Professor Bowman about Relief, and definitely get involved,” King said. “It's a lot of fun. You'll learn a lot. There's a lot of opportunities to grow as both a writer and a reader.”

Click here to learn more about the opportunities in Taylor’s English program.