Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Islander Student-Led Creative Writing Journal Adopts Multi-Media Format

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many changes and adjustments at the Island University, and Windward Review, the university’s premier creative writing journal, is also adapting to the times. Thanks to the ingenuity of the student-led team of editors, the Windward, once a singular printed literary journal, is morphing into a multi-faceted journal, encompassing multiple blogs, an active social media presence, and more.

“We have been moving toward an increased digital landscape, and if we want to make a difference, we cannot solely rely on our journal coming out once a year,” said Dr. Robin Carstensen, Associate Professor of English, and Faculty Advisor and Senior Editor of the Review. “We want to offer a relevant ongoing writing venue for our community to engage with one another.”

Windward Review is a national literary journal published by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Department of English and Islander Creative Writers. In its 18-year history, the journal remained a primarily physical product. Each volume is collected and edited over the course of 12 months by a dedicated group of Islanders, then released as a single volume.

“I’m really proud of what the students have done to increase Windward’s presence and capacity to invite dialogue about what matters in our communities,” Carstensen said. “We had been working on the blog already, and when the pandemic hit and our courses transitioned online, the students worked very quickly to adapt the journal to the digital environment and expand our reach”

Under the direction of Carstensen, students working on Windward Review can specialize in certain roles, such as editor, social media manager, website manager, and more. Usually comprised of volunteers and student workers, this is the first year that students could enroll in a class (ENGL 4385) dedicated entirely to working on the journal.

“Due to its continued expansion, an editorial class was the next logical step for Windward Review,” said Zoe Ramos, Managing Editor of the journal and master’s level English student. “The class has been an invaluable place where we can work together to achieve our goals as a journal.”

ENGL 4385: Studies in Creative Writing: Literary Publishing, Windward Review, is split into two sections. In the first half of the semester, students focused on editing and curating the journal. In the second half, they focused on marketing and engaging with a readership. Throughout the course, students gained a multifaceted, real-world editorial experience that culminated in constructing mock job applications for positions in the writing and editing field.  

“It was rewarding watching the work that my team and I had edited come to life,” said Jayne-Marie Linguist, senior English student, who took both ENGL 4358 and ENGL 3378, a Document and Design course, led by Dr. Catherine Quick, Associate Professor of English, who works on the design and pagination. “We put together our own design of the journal, compiling all of the work that we have accepted. Seeing my favorite poems that my team worked on was so fulfilling and made all of the hard work as an editor worthwhile.”

Mainstays of the website’s former self, like the journal’s mission statement and a collection of past editions, can be found alongside a slurry of new additions. Several blog columns are available for readers from around the world, covering topics such as Transitioning to Online Learning, Covid-19 Tales, Parenting in the Pandemic, and the new Summer Reading Series. The site has also expanded to include an Author’s Spotlight series, dedicated to showcasing some of the most important voices who have contributed to the journal.

“I think Windward is a journal which values the inclusion of authors from various backgrounds, ethnicity, cultural experiences, and ‘stages’ on the writer's path,” said Dylan Lopez, senior English student and assistant managing editor who curates the Author’s Spotlight. “For me, it is always important that Windward is reflective of these values, and welcomes writers young and old, green, and professional.”

Alongside the online expansion of the journal, the traditional version of Volume 18 will still be published in the fall. A virtual forum will celebrate its arrival.

“Windward Review is the literary journal of South Texas and the Coastal Bend. There’s no other journal like us in the Coastal Bend region,” Carstensen said. “I think these advancements are going to help us reach a lot more people.”