Hairstreak Butterfly, CC’s New Online Literary Journal
Hairstreak Butterfly Review,named after the official Colorado state insect, embraces CC’s aspiration to invite innovation and possibility into our understanding of the world. Launched by the Department of English, the online literary journal’s editors describe their mission as offering “a space for writing that stirs the senses and invokes things wild, sacred, daring, and visionary. We are as excited about feeling out the limits of genre, language, perspective, and narratives as we are about the careful rendering of that which makes humans human and keeps time waxing and waning.” Take a look at Issue 1.
Assistant Professor of English Natanya Pulley is the journal’s managing editor. She says that when imagining a literary journal for CC, she asked herself two things: Does the world need yet another literary journal? and What can it offer our students that they aren’t already experiencing in student-run publications, through our Visiting Writer Series’ events and class talks, or through discussion (in-class and one-on-one) about contemporary literary publishing?
“I’ve been editing literary journals for the last 10 or so years and find it is an essential part of being a contemporary writer. One can read the trends before they hit the bookstores and find emerging and marginalized voices that may not find a publisher for some time.” Pulley also says that reading submissions for the journal means encountering not only a wide spectrum of styles, perspectives, and content, but also reading underdeveloped work or writing that feels so close — but not enough — to complete.
“It means confronting writing that is clumsy, hollow, amateurish, offensive, unimaginative, or worse: average,” she says. “This exposure ultimately helps a writer identify their own weaknesses and limitations, and even face their fear of failing while also finding their strengths and readership.”
There are a multitude of writing programs with nationwide literary journals that build the student editorial experience with exactly these areas in mind, says Pulley. “My goal has always been to provide such an opportunity for our students, but I returned often to that first question as I began planning a ‘Literary Publishing Practicum’ adjunct and in my discussions with students and visitors about literary journal publishing,” Pulley says of getting this project started. “Our students are innovative, hardworking, and inquisitive people. Many love writing and reading; they read to escape, be challenged, learn, and see themselves reflected in the words of others. But they also want to build spaces for change and growth — they want to be a part of something important that is inclusive and supportive of marginalized people.”
While the journal increases the number of publications in the literary world as well as at CC, Pulley says her vision for it has been not only to deepen students’ connection with the literary industry and their own role as writers within that industry, but also to deepen work in diversity and inclusion by asking what it takes behind the scenes for marginalized voices to be seen and heard.
“How do we build such an infrastructure? What are we looking for when we read submissions? What do we see or look for when reading published work and what does this say about how we conceive of the world?” Pulley says of the questions she asks throughout the process of putting the journal together. “What does our understanding of ‘good writing’ rely on and how did it come to be? How can we be proactive about inviting and honoring work by writers of color, LGBTQ writers, and writers with disabilities? And most importantly, how do we interrogate our own choices in building this space and structure? What questions of about our own positions and views must we embrace — not once, but every moment we read submissions and edit, communicate with, publish, and promote our contributors?”
The literary journal, and the Lit Pub Practicum Pulley teaches, offer students an opportunity to tackle these questions and toward a specific purpose. “We work to put something out there that we hope speaks to and teaches others as it has us,” she says. “This is why the world needs literary journals — thousands of different kinds: we must always ask ourselves which narratives, voices, perspectives, and images do we find essential to understanding our world today? And at CC we must ask how do we best amplify them?” Spend some time with Hairstreak Butterfly Review.