Updated 2/25; 12:55 p.m.
Worlds come together for social justice in Emerson’s only combined undergraduate and graduate literary magazine, Words Apart.
Founded in 2012 by now-alumnus Luke Jones, the monthly online publication showcases work pertaining to each issue’s theme, like survival, mental health, and social privilege. Submissions are open to the public, and include almost all mediums, including writing, photography, and video. With a staff of 12 members and no print edition, all the necessary funds are supplied by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, according to editor-in-chief Sarah Cadorette.
Cadorette, a writing, literature, and publishing graduate student, said these factors are what makes it unique.
“We feel that it’s important for art that has a more overtly political meaning to have an outlet,” Cadorette said. “Also, because we’re online, we’re able to publish just about any genre we want. So for people who might want to combine modalities, we have almost unlimited space.”
Cadorette previously attended Emerson as a class of 2010 undergraduate and as an interdisciplinary major in travel writing and social advocacy, before Words Apart was founded. When she first heard about the magazine during the graduate program’s orientation, she said she knew it was what her experience at the college was missing.
Cadorette said she loves that it’s inclusive to all students, no matter what degree they’re pursuing, and that it’s open to the public. The staff wanted to incorporate voices from all perspectives, like various cultural backgrounds, ages, genders, and locations, to vary the content and messages, she said.
“We try to publish international writers and artists,” Cadorette said. “We get submissions from people from all around the world, and I think that’s because we’re all online so it’s easy for people to access us.”
Submissions for the magazine are constantly fluctuating, and Cadorette said they have struggled with numbers in the past, but they’re improving. Ryan Bradley, last year’s editor-in-chief and current features editor, said to recruit, the staff speaks at graduate orientation, the undergraduate alternative organization fair, and through flyer campaigns.
“I think it’s just important to get voices out there and heard to widen the greater cultural conversation about what our culture can and should be,” Bradley, a writing, literature, and publishing graduate student, said.
This year, they’ve also started hosting Story Slams, spoken competitions for writers, in the Walker Building to have a more physical presence on campus, Bradley said.
Last summer, Cadorette said they also held a fiction contest with a submission fee of $3. The staff chose to keep it small to avoid ostracizing people, but still needed to make a profit to help fund the Story Slams, something the Office of Diversity and Inclusion doesn’t cover, she said. Their budget right now is around $600 she estimated.
Besides the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Words Apart works with writing, literature, and publishing professor Maria Koundoura. Koundoura said her role as a faculty advisor includes helping with any concerns regarding funds, editorial practices, and ethical publishing.
Noah Grabeel, a writing, literature, and publishing graduate student, also heard about the publication through a presentation at orientation. He’s a co-fiction editor and has submitted to the magazine before. His piece in the most recent issue, survival-themed, was about growing up queer in a very conservative Virginia town.
“I think [Words Apart] is really devoted to bringing out different perspectives with a focus on trying to reverse any sort of oppression via social preconceptions,” Grabeel said. “They’re trying to reverse that by bringing a lot of social justice issues to light.”
Cadorette said the staff is willing to work with storytellers hesitant about publishing with the magazine in hopes they will help continue to broaden its horizon and create a literary community.
“One of the exciting things about Words Apart is the nature of being online and being social justice oriented and being a small press,” Cadorette said. “It’s a very dynamic publication. We really encourage new people to come in with the sense that they can participate fully in the magazine, even if they’re an undergraduate.”
Correction 2/25: A previous version of this article referred to founding editor-in-chief as Tim Jones, when his correct name is Luke Jones.