Enormous Rooms editor hope salon-workshops will boost submissions

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Robert Morreal and Brian Gray, co-editors of Enormous Rooms, the U’s undergraduate literary journal, say they won’t be satisfied with an ordinary publication.

“We want to come out with something that is kind of unique and that doesn’t feel so heavy when you pick it up,” Gray said, contrasting their plans for Enormous Rooms with the book-length journals of academia.

The journal has always struggled to field submissions, but Gray and Morreal will still hold two to three writer salon-workshops per month in an effort to generate material for the journal. This will take place in Gray’s living room at 427 E. First Avenue, though the location is subject to change. Gray and Morreal also plan to visit creative writing classes to hand out copies of last year’s journal to interested students.

“I want people to come hang out and get to know each other,” Gray said. He has been holding salon-workshops on his own for the past few years.

When he started holding the salon-workshops, Gray was trying to reconcile the university writers he knew from school with the non-university writers he’d met at open-mic nights and poetry slam competitions. He found himself torn between two “totally separate crowds,” and wanted to sit them down together and have a “more diverse exchange of ideas.” Gray says that the salon-workshops allow writers to discuss and produce ideas. It was only natural for Gray to incorporate his recent literary community into the structure of Enormous Rooms; Gray and Morreal will be following the editors of last year’s journal in allowing submissions from non-students.

In addition to the traditional end-of-year journal, which accepts fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art submissions, Gray and Morreal also plan to publish 10 to 12 zines. They hope these will be filled with material generated from writing prompts given at the salon-workshops, though other submissions will be considered. For the next zine, contributors will be prompted to produce a text that could have been written on the back of a postcard.

“We’ve been trying to think dynamically about what is it that’s going to get people to write,” Gray said.

But the journal’s budget was slashed in half, and while Gray and Morreal are focusing a lot of energy on getting people to generate material, they can’t entirely ignore the university’s material reality.

“It’s going to be hard to stretch $1500, especially with the zines, and I know that’s going to be kind of tough and that might have to come out of my own pocket,” said Gray.
In essence, Gray and Morreal are laying the foundation for the end-of-year journal with the zines and salons. With the community, they hope to develop, in theory, a publishable body of writing.

“Rob and I don’t want to come out with an ordinary journal,” said Gray. “It’s been a lot of work so far and we haven’t even started.”

Submissions and questions should be sent to [email protected] Further details on salon-workshops and upcoming zines can be found on the Enormous Rooms pages on Facebook and MySpace.

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