Celebrating milestones: PCC’s literary art magazines reach new heights

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Carolyn Moore Writers House.

Carolyn Moore Writers House & Residency

Just five miles from PCC’s Sylvania Campus in Tigard, the house is the first and only writers residency program of its kind to be hosted by a community college in the U.S. PCC offers the Carolyn Moore Writing Residency. Since 2020, over 50 talented writers from across the country have enjoyed concentrated time in the CMWH situated on 9-acre pastoral setting to focus on written work.

PCC students benefit from interaction with the writers-in-residence who visit classes, give readings throughout the PCC district, and host small groups of creative writing students.

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Two big milestones are happening in Portland Community College’s literary scene. PCC is launching the 50th issue of Alchemy literary magazine and the 40th issue of Pointed Circle.

The longevity and quality of these student-produced magazines reflect the dedication of staff and the student talent.

Faculty and staff are hosting a release party at 6 p.m., Wednesday, June 12 with readings at 6:30 p.m. in Room 122, Terrell Hall, Cascade Campus. The event will feature readings by special guests Frank X Walker, the first African American named as Kentucky Poet Laureate, and poet-scholar Shauna M. Morgan from the University of Kentucky.

Alchemy and the Pointed Circle will be available at the event and the PCC Bookstore for $5.

What is Alchemy?

Alchemy is a 110-plus-page magazine showcasing prose, poetry, and visual art by PCC students and contributors from around the globe. Each year, a Graphic Design Program student designs the cover. The magazine has earned accolades, including a gold medal from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for its 2015 issue and a silver medal in 2007.

Alums featured in the magazine include U.S. Poet Laureate William Stafford, Gloria Bird (founding member of the Northwest Native Writers Association), Kesha Ajose-Fisher, the 2020 Oregon Book Award for Fiction winner (“No God Like the Mother”). The 50th issue features work from 27 students, 12 alumni, three faculty/staff members and two Carolyn Moore Writers House residents.

Pointed Circle students

Pointed Circle student contributors.

What is the Pointed Circle?

Since its inception in 1984, the Pointed Circle has been curated by Cascade Campus students. Staff say it is an innovative, diverse and prestigious anthology for an international readership. The magazine encourages writers and artists of all genres to submit their work, and it is produced by students registered in related coursework. 

The magazine’s 40th issue includes contributions by PCC students, faculty and alumni, and includes selections from the first three years of the Carolyn Moore Writer’s House, including work by award-winning writers Ismet Prcic (winner of the 2013 Oregon Book Award for Fiction), Jae Nichelle (viral poetry star and author of the 2023 collection “Gods Themselves”), and Jose Hernandez Diaz (winner of the 2023 Benjamin Saltman Award).

Alchemy students working

Alchemy students hard at work.

Students Learn Art of Publishing

PCC serves as a launchpad for aspiring creatives, with three active literary magazines featuring fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and visual art. These magazines are edited, designed, and produced by student editors across PCC’s Sylvania, Rock Creek, and Cascade Campuses.

“In 2023, then Alchemy editor Hannah Rae Whittle was awarded a full-ride scholarship to Smith College right out of PCC,” said Megan Savage, Alchemy advisor and composition and literary instructor.

Also, one of the 2024 poetry editors for The Bellwether Review, Hunter Bordwell-Gray, is attending Pacific University to major in creative writing in the fall and has been awarded a four-year Binford Endowed Scholarship in English.

“Working on The Bellwether Review has been especially valuable as someone who submits writing to such publications,” said Bordwell-Gray. “It’s gone from this inscrutable wall of sending your work to sea and waiting for any kind of news to ‘Oh, this journal is going to be in the collection stage until fall term, I’ll expect to hear back then’.”

The Alchemy students describe themselves as a family that “geeks out” together, learning editing and production skills through hands-on experience and tight deadlines. They are united by their goal to uplift underrepresented voices, making the experience invaluable for future careers in graphic design, writing, journalism, illustration, and communication. 

Savage said Alchemy staff members emphasize the importance of nurturing talent.

“Writing is a skill; it’s not in-born. Anyone can write something good,” said student editor Sean Fields, a published playwright involved in PCC’s Illumination Project.

Social media coordinator Haley Johnson added, “We’re students as well. How would I want to be told no?”

Justin Rigamonti shows off one of Carolyn Moore's favorite desks.

Justin Rigamonti, coordinator for the Carolyn Moore Writers House and Pointed Circle faculty advisor, shows off one of Moore’s favorite desks.

Nurturing The Next Generation

Then there is PCC’s cornerstone literary center — Carolyn Moore Writers House in Tigard.

Access to top talent is an effective way to inspire the next wave of literary talent. The house attracts respected literary artists from around the country to spend time creating and discussing their craft with students. Resident Poet Jae Nichelle and author Mariah Rigg hosted a cross-genre morning workshop amidst the aroma of coffee and donuts on a recent spring morning. They were discussing writing and doing generative practice with PCC creative writing student Gigi Giangiobbe and a group that joined them.

“The Carolyn Moore Writers House workshop was great,” Giangiobbe said. “We chatted and got to know each other a bit, then discussed a writing prompt and went off in our own corners or patches of grass and wrote. We reconvened and some of us read our piece to the group…It was inspiring. I will definitely be on the lookout for other writing workshops in the future.”

Learn more about other PCC student literary periodicals at https://www.pcc.edu/literary-magazines/

A view from the Carolyn Moore house.

An inspiring view from the Carolyn Moore house.

About Misty Bouse

A Portland Community College public relations specialist, Misty Bouse has been working in college advancement for a decade. A graduate of University of Oregon, Misty has worked as a managing editor for BUILDERNews Magazine and as a contribu... more »