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Student literary magazine Floodwall celebrates launch of most recent issue

Myra Henderson, the managing editor of Floodwall magazine gives welcoming remarks at the launch event for the fall issue of the magazine. Photo by Adam Kurtz/UND Today

The latest issue of Floodwall, UND’s student-run literary magazine, is now available online.

In celebration of the event, a group of student volunteers and authors met on the evening of Thursday, Dec. 8, to thank one another for their creative efforts, and to spend some time together listening to contributors reading selections of their published works. Nearly 50 people gathered on the third floor of Merrifield Hall, and dozens more viewed the event online on Floodwall’s Instagram Live account

On Thursday night, people entered the room in twos and threes and sat near their friends. As applause rang out after welcoming speeches and readings, a sense of belonging seemed to fill the room, and a student who attended confirmed that impression.

“I think what strikes me is the sense of community,” said Jona L. Pedersen, a senior set to graduate soon. Pedersen was among the student authors published in the most recent issue of the magazine. “Like with a lot of the writers, they might be people I know or that I’ve taken classes with, or they might be people from other areas of UND.”

“From other areas of UND,” it turns out, is correct. The magazine has received and published several submissions from departments across the campus, including biology and aviation, alongside more traditionally literary departments such as English.

Pedersen will graduate with a double-major in Fisheries & Wildlife and English. They were at the event to read a pair of poems — “eulogy for the giant water bug in the target parking lot” and “the english coulee” (all lowercase). They said the former poem was inspired by actually finding a giant water bug and adding it to a collection of insects they needed to prepare for a class.

UND senior Jona L. Pedersen reads two poems at the launch event for the fall issue of Floodwall magazine. Photo by Adam Kurtz/ UND Today

Thursday’s event was the largest in-person event for people involved with Floodwall. The magazine originally started in 2012, but the ebb and flow of the graduate students who oversaw its production meant it went on hiatus in 2014. In 2020, Teaching Assistant English Professor Amy Kielmeyer approached Patrick Henry, assistant English professor and coordinator of creative writing, about reviving the magazine.

Floodwall got off the ground shortly before the pandemic required students to switch to remote learning, which made the in-person kickoff event even more special.

Henry said the magazine has changed since its previous iteration. In 2012, it was meant to be a publication for people across the country. Citing the demand for such an outlet, Henry decided to rebrand it as a student-run literary magazine more aligned with the UND campus community. Henry also has brought working on the magazine into the academic fold of the Department of English, and it is closely aligned with the undergraduate Creative Writing Certificate and the Certificate in Writing & Editing.

“The idea was to give current UND students not only practical experience in publishing and editing work, but also a venue to promote their creativity and their work,” said Henry, who serves as faculty advisor to the magazine.

Anna Kinney, coordinator of the University Writing Program at the Teaching Transformation and Development Academy, helped train the magazine’s copy editors and has helped with promotion and encouraging student writers to submit work.

“We’ve actually made it a much more professionalized publication with a more conventional publishing structure,” Henry said.

The magazine publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, visual art and photography. Students interested in submitting to the magazine can use the subject line “Query” and send work to floodwall@und.edu, or email Henry at patrick.henry@und.edu.

Students gathered in Merrifield Hall on Thursday, Dec. 8, to attend the launch event for the fall 2022 issue of Floodwall, UND’s student-run literary magazine. Photo by Adam Kurtz/UND Today

UND student Myra Henderson, the managing editor of the magazine, said she was inspired to get involved with “Floodwall” because the sense of community felt so strong. That feeling of community only deepened for her when she became close friends with people working on the magazine. After an informational meeting about the magazine, she jumped in.

“Now I’ve volunteered in every capacity possible,” she said with a laugh.

Henderson said she always wanted to be involved with writing professionally and being involved with the magazine led to her adding the Writing & Editing certificate into her studies. While her educational goals may have changed over the course of her time at UND, her core belief in the power of writing has not changed.

“Writing, editing and publishing have remained at the core of one of my very large life interests and hopes and goals,” Henderson said.

Scholarship opportunities

Three English Department scholarships are associated with Floodwall.

  • The John Little Fiction Scholarship is awarded for the best short story or packet of flash fiction. It is named after the longtime UND professor who founded the Writer’s Conference in 1970. It is open to graduate and undergraduate students who plan to enroll in the following academic year.
  • The Thomas McGrath Award for poetry is named after the celebrated North Dakota poet who graduated from UND in 1939. The award is given for the best poem or packet of poems.
  • The Gladys Boen Scholarship. Boen was a professor at UND from 1953 to 1972. This is the only UND creative writing scholarship that is exclusive to English students. The award is given to an undergrad English major currently enrolled at UND, particularly to encourage and inspire freshmen and sophomore students. The award is given for the best essay, short story, poem or packet of poems submitted by a current undergraduate English major.

More information about the scholarships, as well as how and when to submit writing selections, can be found on the Creative Writing Scholarship Submissions page on Floodwall’s website.