By Dr. Charles M. Tung
Fragments, Seattle University’s magazine for literature and the visual arts, now in its 50th year! The magazine stands as proof of the vitality of our University’s commitment to, and cultivation of, the arts. Stacey Janssen, the editor in chief, and Rachael Bradbury, the art director, both have worked extremely hard with our staff to produce this special anniversary issue. They, and the staff, deserve the highest praise.
We are happy to announce three noteworthy aspects of this 50th anniversary issue. First, we feature a hitherto unpublished poem, "Lady Slipper," by the State of Washington’s first Poet Laureate, Sam Green. Professor Green, Distinguished Northwest Writer in the English Department, is not only a generous contributor to the magazine while in residence, but also a talent scout who directs the students in his workshops to our magazine. Second, the journal has chosen to print most of our art pieces in full color for the third year in a row, a decision that represents the strength of the collaborative relationship between the departments of English and Fine Arts. Among the many joys of this partnership is the magazine’s recent transformation into a pleasing aesthetic object in its own right. Without the Fine Arts advisor, Professor Naomi Kasumi, Fragments would not have become such a fine book. Third, Stacey Janssen and Rachael Bradbury created our first staff-judged competition for the best submissions in literature and art. Congratulations to the winners, Matt Lu and Andrew Ball, whose pieces are featured directly after this note, right up front.
Anniversaries call for celebratory accounts of the past. Fragments has been published continuously for 50 years, with only a couple of hard years when the magazine withered to several photocopied pages. But since space does not permit a full survey, I will provide only a brief history that goes back just so far as the living memories in my department allows. The result may be an account that lives up to the name of our journal.
No doubt, much happened between 1958 and the 1970s. But a major shift took place in 1972, when Professor Edwin Weihe took over the magazine for four years. A recent graduate of the famous Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, Professor Weihe reinvented the magazine as a semi-professional journal, mixing student work with the submissions of established figures such as Richard Eberhart. Times of plenty were followed by times of dearth: when Professor Sharon Cumberland took over the magazine in 1994, the magazine had come dangerously close to breaking the line of continuity. Professor Cumberland (who has two poems in this issue!) resuscitated Fragments with the help of then-Chair, Fr. Dave Leigh, who threw a Hail Mary and $1,000 to save the journal. She recruited Fr. Josef Venker and convinced Fine Arts to match the English Department’s money. Professor Cumberland dramatically increased the budget of the magazine in order to secure its future and its relationship with the visual arts. In 2000, Fr. Emmett Carroll took the helm and was moderator until his retirement in 2005. From what I can tell, Fr. Carroll used his roman collar with great persuasive force to establish the magazine as a way of promoting the University. Thanks to his efforts, the Provost and the Dean of Admissions now purchase Fragments yearly for all incoming students in order to welcome them to the diverse and flourishing culture of the arts at Seattle University.
As the most recent moderator of this magazine, I, along with Professor Kasumi, invite you into the excellent hard work – creative and editorial – of our University community. While theoretical conceptions of the fragment often point to the lost unity of the past or the fracture of the present, we hope that Fragments here suggests the difficult and wonderfully complex wholeness towards which we aspire.
To get a copy of the 2008 Issue, contact Dr. Charles Tung or visit the Fragments website.
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