Mary Baldwin Creative Journal Finds National Niche

Ariel-Ehlenz.Girls-Girls-GirlsJust a few years after its launch as the country’s only online creative journal run by undergraduates for undergraduates, Mary Baldwin University’s Outrageous Fortune has collected national accolades and bolstered students’ skills and confidence. The current issue of plain china, a widely respected anthology of the best undergraduate writing and art in the United States, features two works from Outrageous Fortune, marking the second time that the Mary Baldwin journal has been included as one of the best of the best.

“It is truly a campus organization that provides students with an outlet for creative expression and experiences that reward them with marketable skills,” said Sarah Kennedy, professor of English and Outrageous Fortune’s faculty advisor.

Kennedy oversees the interns who work on the magazine and offers advice when staffers seek her out, but she solidly credits the club’s student leaders with supplying creative direction and managing day-to-day operations such as maintaining a database of national contacts, selecting works from hundreds of submissions, and sending acceptance or rejection letters for the publication.

“They are the ones who have earned the recognition. They have made a name for Outrageous Fortune and Mary Baldwin,” she said.

Theatre major Laura Wise ’14, art and drama editor, agrees with Kennedy  that involvement in Outrageous Fortune serves as career preparation.

“My work has given me realistic expectations about the standards of professionalism in the working world,” Wise said.

The journal accepts previously unpublished poetry, short stories, chapters of novels, one-act plays, essays, photographs, and artwork from undergraduates in the United States. The staff is considering expanding to seek international submissions.

Senior Mikhaila Moynihan has enjoyed shaping and reshaping the journal since her freshman year. After working as fiction editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief, she now serves as editor-at-large and considers training the club’s next leaders her top priority.

“It is so difficult — but necessary — to be published in the literary world today,” Moynihan said. “The ability to give other students a chance to showcase their work is fulfilling and interesting. I want to ensure that our journal continues to be strong and respected.”

She is also impressed that the editorial staff is comprised of students with a wide variety of majors and interests.

Managing Editor Jasmine-Kelly Chavis ’15 said her tenure with Outrageous Fortune has sharpened her business and mediation skills.  She is a big fan of the Open Mic events that the staff hosts a few times each semester — the next one is slated for February 20 in the Nuthouse and is open to all Mary Baldwin students.

“I love seeing the creativity of our campus blossom at Open Mic nights. I love that I am part of an organization that provides an outlet for others to express themselves,” Chavis said.

Although there is a steady stream of submissions to Outrageous Fortune from colleges and universities nationwide, Kennedy and the staff hope to encourage more works from Mary Baldwin students. They would also like to see more submissions from Mary Baldwin alumni, who are the only non-undergraduate contributors accepted into the journal.

“I’m constantly amazed by the creative ways people have explored various forms of art,” Wise said.

Front photo, “The Americana,” featured as cover art for the spring 2014 edition of Outrageous Fortune, by Olivia Samerdyke ’14.

Interior image, “Girls, girls, girls,” from the spring 2014 edition of Outrageous Fortune, by Ariel Ehlenz.