For those who love to write, for those who love to read, for those who love literary magazines… Belletrist, Bellevue College’s online literary magazines, is worth taking a look into.
From the early 1970’s to the early 2000’s, Belletrist wasn’t around and in its place was Arnazella, which was a print literary magazine that was published by staff and students once a year during the spring. Multiple problems with Arnazella was the birth of Belletrist.
Laura Burns, Belletrist advisor and BC instructor, said, “As the magazine ran into increasing problems with maintaining a year-long student staff and distributing the print version, the English department decided to experiment with an online version, which can be produced more quickly and less expensively. It’s been a decided success!”
Although some may prefer print versions of reading material, Burns said, “Many online magazines, literary and otherwise, are proliferating on the web, so it was decided to give the online medium a try.”
The purpose of Belletrist is simply to show BC staff, students, and artists the talent that is alive within the BC campus. “Belletrist celebrates the literary and artistic achievements of BC students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Many times we are publishing student writers and artists who have never been published before, and publication gives them a huge boost of confidence in their abilities.”
Similar to Arnazella, Belletrist also has challenges of its own. For example, Burns stated that staffing is a regular challenge.
“Our staff was a perfect size this last winter, with six people, while the previous year it was only 2. As the magazine becomes more prominent in the BC community, recruiting should get easier. Then we always bite our nails waiting for submissions to come in. Typically most of them arrive in the last week before the deadline, which is always in mid-February. Getting enough submissions always seems to work out, but we [the staff] always get nervous in late January. Our staff this year did a great job talking to student association clubs to encourage submissions, and we put out emails and posters to advertise.”
While Belletrist may have seen its fair share of challenges, it is still going strong and the staff doesn’t plan on that ending any time soon. Looking towards the future, they are hoping to see Belletrist published two or three times a year.
“This is certainly a possibility; it will depend on how much interest in the literary magazine develops over the next few years. We are also investigating the possibility of having a “print-on-demand” option for the magazine; that will be a goal for next year’s staff,” said Burns.
Recently, Belletrist celebrated National Poetry Month in April by having a literary reading and publication party. The turnout “was a success” and focused on writers and artists reading their own works or talking about how their works came to be.
“It (Belletrist) doesn’t need to be searched for in a bookstore, and it doesn’t cost anything to the reader. Hence the artistic achievements of our students can be shared with everyone!” said Burns.