English honor society revives past WBU tradition gathering creativity

Release Date: April 21, 2009    

PLAINVIEW – In honor of the centennial celebration, Wayland Baptist University’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter has brought back the literary magazine to the university, gathering works by creative students across the campus.

Embers was recently published by the English honor society group of students as a way to showcase the creative minds of English students and others. While the project was still in the planning stages, students learned a literary magazine lurked in Wayland’s history.

“Last spring, (vice president) Jordy Williams and I were visiting about possible projects for Sigma Tau and we thought it would be a good idea to pull together all the creative voices of Wayland,” said Sarah Ketchem, a senior English major who is president of the WBU chapter. “We told Dr. Cindy McClenagan (chapter co-sponsor and dean of the School of Languages and Literature) about the idea and she told us about Portals.”

Produced from 1957-76, Portals was the annual literary magazine of Wayland, featuring written works of art from the campus. Once the students found out the publication had existed before, they were more excited about reviving the tradition, especially in light of the school’s 100th anniversary year.

The students did, however, opt to expand their publication a bit, opening the submissions up to art and music students who might want to share their creativity as well. The group asked four faculty members to serve as judges, ranking the items received in order to decide what would end up in the final publication. Williams came up with the title for the new magazine, playing off the familiar flame logo symbol of Wayland and seeing each creative student as an ember of the whole flame.  

Due to space considerations, the group received more submissions than they could use. But in the end, they were able to include a good mix of poetry, short stories and artwork. A few music submissions were included as well, including one piece of original sheet music and lyrics to another song.

“I was very pleased with how it came out. It turned out better than I expected,” Ketchem said. “I was excited about the quality of work submitted. You can really see the creativity on campus. I think once students see how nice it is, they will want to submit next year.”

While Ketchem is graduating this May and moving on, she hopes the remaining Sigma Tau members will carry on the publication as an annual tradition again. So does McClenagan, who was particularly impressed at the group’s initiative.

“This was very student initiated and student-led,” she said. “Sarah did all the layout work, so we advisers can’t take much credit for it.”

McClenagan said she was pleased with the finished product and the variety of submissions and thought adding the fine arts aspect was fitting.

“It gives the magazine more creative flair and reaches out to all the arts, not just focusing on the written word,” she said, noting that even some faculty and staff work was included in the book, adding more breadth.

The group is selling the booklet-size magazines for $2 each, with proceeds benefiting the Invisible Children organization, specifically their fund to send books to children in Africa. A grant from the Plainview Cultural Arts Council helped offset the printing cost of the magazine.

Embers is available in the School of Languages and Literature offices, located on the second floor of Gates Hall, or by calling (806) 291-1100.

Sigma Tau Delta is in its second year on the WBU campus, recently inducting another 11 students into the group and adding longtime English and foreign language teacher Christa Smith as an honorary member. The group now has 23 student members, composed primarily of English majors or minors with qualifying grade point averages, and two faculty sponsors.