Palo Alto Review celebrates tenth anniversary
By Chris Simpson
Pulse Staff Reporter
Palo Alto Review Cover 1992 Palo Alto Review cover 2000 Palo Alto Review Cover 2002

There’s a treasure hidden on campus that many in the outside world know about. The funny thing is that most people on campus don’t.

This treasure is the Palo Alto Review, an academic journal that is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this spring.

The Review, which is the only academic journal produced by a community college in the nation, publishes poems, memoirs, essays, articles and short stories. Each issue is 60 pages long, and it contains six to eight poems, three short stories, or two regular length stories or articles.

Every issue is also focussed around a specific theme. Some examples of these over the past few years are Dreams, Art and the Artist, and Beginnings.

The Review began when former Palo Alto President Byron Skinner approached Robert Richmond, Assistant Professor of English, and Ellen Shull, Associate Professor of English, in the fall of 1991 about co-editing a journal devoted to publishing works by students and established writers.

“We basically started from scratch,” Richmond said. “To get the word out we advertised in literary magazines like Poets and Writers and contacted the Palo Alto community.”

It didn’t take long for their offices to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of submissions from across the nation. However, the monotonous task of reading through them and replying to the authors was not without its rewards.

“We were really excited to be discovering new writers and enjoying their work,” Shull said

“We were giving copies to family and friends,” Shull said. “Anyone—to show them what we’d done.”

Since then, 400 to 500 copies of the Review have been published each year in the fall and spring for $5 each. It is also available at a $10 yearly subscription rate, or $18 for two years, $40 for five years and $100 for a lifetime subscription.

In an average week, the editors receive 12 to 15 works of fiction, 35 to 40 poems and 10 essays or articles from across the nation and world. The majority of these come from New York and California.

“We get so many submissions that we, on average, send back 98 percent of them,” Richmond said. “Most of them are very good, but there just isn’t enough room in the issue.”

When they reject a writer’s work, they are always sure to send them a personalized letter.

“We don’t do form letters,” Richmond said. “We offer suggestions about their piece, and if we can’t use it because it has too much sex or cursing, we tell them about other magazines that would be interested in their work.”
The Review is advertised world-wide in trade magazines like Writer’s Digest, and has subscribers in Japan, Australia, Greece, Germany, Canada, Switzerland and Israel

“Word gets around about us,” Shull said. “We’ve heard of a copy being passed along by two airplane passengers.”

In addition to being known around the world, an article by Burton Raffel, “Beethoven, Monet, Technology, and Us,” published in the Spring 2000 issue was selected to be included in the 2001 Pushcart Prize XXVI. The Pushcart honors the best work of small literary magazines.

“We usually submit five pieces from each year’s issues to be considered for the Pushcart Prize,” Shull said. “This year they chose one.”

The Review has also been featured in the Library Journal, Writer’s Market and the San Antonio Express-News. The Review recently went online with its own website featuring six pieces each from the past three issues. But despite this outreach, student submissions and campus knowledge of the Review remains low.

“Unfortunately, we receive very few things from Palo Alto students,” Shull said.

Shull said they have also been approached by Associate Professor of music Brent Osner about a collaboration on compact disc between the Review and Palo Alto’s Mariachis, the Palominos.
“My real dream is to have a special issue that honors the best pieces that have been published over the years,” Shull said.

However, some future projects may garner the Review the attention it deserves. The Fall 2003 issue will be a special International issue, with submissions from around the world. Some authors in Japan have already been contacted about contributing.

Regardless of what happens, Shull believes that the Review will continue to thrive, and she is very optimistic about its future under Palo Alto President Dr. Ana Guzman.

"I believe that Dr. Guzman will see that the Review is a very special flower in the Palo Alto garden; and with a little watering and tending will continue to grow into something beautiful," Shull said.

The 21st issue will be published this spring. Students and faculty can submit their work for the Fall 2002 “Friendship” themed issue with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the PA Review Editorial and Business Office, 1400 West Villaret, San Antonio, Texas, 78224-2499 before July 31. The cover letter should include your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address. If your work is selected, you will be "paid" with two copies of the issue.

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