‘Normal’ magazine earns high marks for inclusion, notable essays

The Normal School literary magazine wins accolades

~ By Jefferson Beavers, communications specialist, Department of English, reprinted from FresnoStateNews.com

Fresno State’s locally grown, nationally known literary magazine, The Normal School, has again earned high marks for gender parity in a nationwide report. The magazine also had five essays and stories mentioned in the newest editions of the annual Best American series.

Founded in 2008, The Normal School is staffed by graduate students in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing. Professor Steven Church, one of the magazine’s founding editors, serves as the faculty coordinator for the magazine, which provides students with real-world experience in publishing and editing.

The Normal School was celebrated in the highlights of the 2016 VIDA Count, an annual report that examines gender parity and inclusion in national literary publications by counting the number of women writers, non-binary writers and writers of color who are published or reviewed.

In its Oct. 17 report, VIDA singled out The Normal School for having 67.1 percent of its 2016 bylines by women, the top mark for gender parity among 23 national publications in its Larger Literary Landscape VIDA Count. While the mark was down slightly from the magazine’s 69 percent high in 2015, it was still far ahead of the magazine’s 51 percent mark in 2014.

The Normal School — one of the few small-market magazines produced out of a graduate Master of Fine Arts program, as opposed to a large corporate entity — fared better in the VIDA Count than all other major publications in its class, including the Harvard Review (59.3 percent of bylines by women), Prairie Schooner (57.3 percent), the Missouri Review (50.5 percent) and the venerable Southwest Review (39.8 percent).

Getting mentions in the Best American series — the annual anthologies published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that serve as the premier annual showcase of literary writing in the country — gives The Normal School more national accolades. The Best American series books were published in October.

Earning “Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2016” recognition in Best American Essays 2017 were:

  • Marcia Aldrich, “Float” (spring 2016)
  • Silas Hansen, “What Real Men Do” (fall 2016)
  • Ann Hood, “Imagine” (spring 2016)
  • Jill Talbot, “An Eye on the Door” (spring 2016)

Earning “Notable Stories of 2016” recognition in Best American Short Stories 2017 was Marytza K. Rubio for “Tunnels” (spring 2016).

The Normal School also saw nonfiction works by its managing editor and two former staff recognized as “notable” in Best American Essays 2017 as well.

Managing editor Sophie Beck had her essay “Returning the Gaze” from The Point (winter) noted. Fresno State alumna Cindy Bradley had her essay “Death, Driveways, and Dreams” from Under the Sun (no. 4) noted, and alumna Jennifer Dean had her essay “Sounding in Fog” from Crazyhorse (spring) noted.

The College of Arts and Humanities provides funding support for The Normal School. Visit The Normal School online to subscribe to the magazine.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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