The River Bluff Review, a compilation of student art and writing, provides an outlet for a diverse group of student voices and their artistic visions.

The River Bluff Review showcases student poetry, prose, scripts and various forms of visual art. 

Every spring, the journal is published and students come to read their work in front of their friends and families. 

Junior mass communications major Tyana Brock of Forsyth, Illinois, said she enjoyed seeing it come to fruition after being one of the students to edit the journal in the fall.

“Because everything was anonymous, it was really neat to see the actual people and finally get to know who they are and see who they are during the reading,” Brock said. “We’ve seen their voice on the page, it was really interesting to see their voice in person and see who they were and get to congratulate them.”

Senior social work major Louis Damani Jones from Swansea, Illinois, had two poems published. “A Drive with Norma” is about his drives through the Missouri bluffs on his way to work.

“I really thought ‘what’s the story of somebody in this town and in this area?’” Jones said. “That’s where the whole concept came from. I thought about the generations that must have passed through those rural towns and the life they may have lived.”

Some writers use poetry as a way to work through their own feelings and difficult points in their lives. Junior biology major Payton Bodden from Hazelwood, Missouri, wrote a poem titled “Meditation on the Staircase,” which she said is her favorite of the two she’s published.

“That one is about feeling alone and feeling like no one really understands you and sometimes you don’t even know yourself,” Bodden said. “At the end of that piece I talk about wearing size 8 Converse and at the very end I say ‘I’m actually a size 9’ so it’s kind of that feeling of being all alone feeling abandoned and by yourself.”

The River Bluff Review is edited by students in English 494: Literary Editing, which is taught by professor Valerie Vogrin in the fall. 

Brock and her classmates read through over 100 submissions during the semester.

“We were reading a lot. We were starting to get burnout but trying to make sure every single piece was treated fairly,” Brock said. “Deciding on those pieces was very overwhelming because we had spent weeks just reading and going through them. If you hadn’t sat down and organized which pieces from each packet that you wanted in River Bluff, you had to go back and look at every single packet.”

Brock also had pieces published in the journal, which she said made the selection process interesting.

“You kind of have to take a step back and decide to be quiet during that time because you don’t want what you say about your piece to influence anybody else because that’s bias,” Brock said. “It was strange to hear everybody talk about it around you and not know it was you.”

Initially, editors were afraid they wouldn’t get enough submissions. Bodden encourages all students to submit their pieces — even those who aren’t confident in their writing.

“I would encourage anyone, if they have a passion for, be it, drawing or fiction or poetry, to submit their work,” Bodden said. “Even if they don’t get accepted the first time, do not quit because if I had quit, I never would have gotten this opportunity. It doesn’t matter what your major is; you should submit.”

For more information about the River Bluff Review, check its website.

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