As Drexel officially announced Wednesday, August 19 that fall term will remain completely remote, many students missing campus are looking for new creative outlets at home and online. A group of Drexel graduate students has one solution: the new online literary journal, hosted by the Creative Writing MFA program at Drexel.
The journal, named Paper Dragon, will be publishing poetry, art, fiction and creative nonfiction and is currently open for submissions. The inaugural issue of the magazine, coming this fall, will be titled with the theme “R&R – Recovery and Resilience,” in hopes of reflecting the current global pandemic.
Paper Dragon’s Managerial Editors addressed this in their Letter From The Editors, stating that the stories in Issue One will show that “it’s human nature to rise up, to band together, to help each other.” At the time of its writing, the letter also expressed hope that campus would be reopened by the time of publication; though that is not the case, the sentiment still stands, and the spirit persists as Paper Dragon nears its fall launch.
The online publication aims to do more than just provide a platform for the arts. Paper Dragon’s goals align with the Drexel mission of civic engagement. One way it hopes to do this is by amplifying the voices of those who have “historically been underrepresented in literature.” Managing Editor William Vargo explained that the magazine intends to solicit work from marginalized groups.
“Cultivating relationships with specific communities will take time, but we’re hoping to be seen as a publication that shares stories from uncommon places that touch our common humanity,” Vargo explained.
Poetry Editor Angel Hogan further encouraged Black writers and artists to share their voices with Paper Dragon in the most recent Letter From The Staff. Here, Hogan shared her personal experiences with racism in America.
“The words and expressions of Black people, in all their many splendid forms, are essential. It is important — it is imperative — to tell our stories,” Hogan said in the letter. “We welcome your voice.”
Another way the publication intends to be civically engaged, according to Vargo, is by “working with existing organizations through workshops to encourage content creation.” Before the pandemic forced the closing of Drexel’s campus, Paper Dragon’s team had planned to partner with several organizations, including Drexel’s Writers Room and Inside-Out. Though distance put a stop to in-person plans, the publication was still able to make connections.
“[W]e recently had a very fun and rewarding virtual workshop with Writers Room,” Vargo said.
Paper Dragon has received support from other sources in Drexel. The magazine is managed and edited by MFA students in the Creative Writing program and published by the Drexel Publishing Group. Its website was created by DPG co-ops Caitlyn McGonigal and Madison La Mountain.
The online magazine is currently open to submissions for publication in Issue 1. Its starting theme of “R&R” promises to bring new and diverse perspectives — of the ongoing pandemic or otherwise. Vargo said that the first issue aims to “give people a breath of fresh air and a little bit of hope” after the stress of recent events.
Interested writers and artists can submit to Paper Dragon by email. Specific instructions are included on the submissions page of their website. The page also states that submissions do not have to be related to the given theme; entries of varying subjects, mediums and formats are welcomed.
“Personally, I love to be surprised — not by twists, but by juxtaposition,” Vargo said, when asked what he would like to see from submissions. “I like to see things from a unique perspective. Tell me a story about an urban equestrian or an 80-year-old who hangs out at the skate park. What do these unlikely pairings tell us about the human condition?”
Paper Dragon will be accepting submissions for its first issue until September 1.