By Eleanor Easton
Opening up a copy of one of Bryn Mawr’s student-run literary magazines, Kaleidoscope, is something more than your average lit mag experience.
“It is Bryn Mawr at a glance,” the Kaleidoscope website says.
Bryn Mawr’s other literary magazine, Nimbus, is an annual publication showcasing the talents of the students of Bryn Mawr. With an overwhelming number of submissions each year, both magazines continue to draw readers in with every edition.
Why Bryn Mawr has two literary journals may be a mystery to some, but Nimbus and Kaleidoscope are very different publications. Kaleidoscope takes submissions of any genre, including fiction, poetry, art, and even sheet music. The magazine is about “representing community,” according to Kaleidoscope editor Nicole Gervasio BMC ’10. Kaleidoscope publishes at least one piece by each person who submits.
“Kaleidoscope is really about diversity,” Gervasio says. “On any two page spread…[there are things that] conflict with each other.”
The magazine tries to include as large a range of pieces as possible. It’s designed to make the reader think and to juxtapose submissions so that there is “some sense of dialogue.” Gervasio explains that the motto “let the scopes collide” reflects the fact that Kaleidoscope often puts conflicting pieces next to each other to create a diverse, “contemporary” feel.
Nimbus takes a slightly different approach. It also accepts submissions “from any area of creative thought” such as writing, art, and music scores, says Assistant Editor Sharanya Sharma BMC ’11. However, Nimbus has a rigorous selection process where each piece is given a rating from 1 to 5, and only submissions that get scores of 3, 4, or 5 are generally included. Last year, there were more than one hundred submissions just for poetry, Sharma says.
Students in creative writing classes are encouraged to submit.
“The creative writing department completely supports them,” says Creative Writing Professor Dan Torday. Still, Nimbus, like Kaleidoscope, is run entirely by students. Torday says that his only role in the process is to “root them on and enjoy the magazine when it comes out.”
Poetry is always the most competitive genre for Nimbus, according to Managing Director Kristen Grubbs BMC ’11. But even if the magazine is selective, she still calls it “a special forum for Mawrtyr artists to display their works and share their talents with the student body at large.” Since Bryn Mawr does not have a fine arts department, the magazine fills this void. Just last year, the name was changed from “Nimbus Literary Magazine” to “Nimbus Literary Arts Magazine” to cover a broader spectrum of content.
Nimbus usually looks like a small paperback book with a colored cover and black and white pages. While it accepts art, the majority of the magazine is not published in color, with the exception of a few pages of artwork in the center of the magazine. On the other hand, Kaleidoscope does publish in color, though this means that it is more expensive to produce, so fewer copies are printed.
Nimbus is published in the spring and distributed during May Day, while Kaleidoscope comes out in January. Nimbus was distributed to incoming freshman during customs week, so it tends to be the more well-known of the two magazines. The theme of Nimbus‘s cover this year will be dark blue in honor of this year’s graduating class. As senior Carolyn Brenner wrote in her Nimbus-featured poem “Sunflower,” “I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.”