MFA Program Launches Online Journal

Published: Aug 8, 2012
University of Tampa graduate students in creative writing last month launched an online literary magazine to feature new essays, poetry, fiction and visual art from Florida and around the world. The site recorded more than 20,000 unique hits in July, and it can be viewed at www.tampareviewonline.org.

Tampa Review Online, or TROn, is dedicated to the blending of contemporary literature and visual arts in traditional and innovative ways. The journal is edited by the students of The University of Tampa's MFA in Creative Writing program. The online magazine takes its name from its award-winning older cousin, Tampa Review, the faculty-edited literary journal that appears in a hardcover, printed edition twice yearly.

TROn will publish bi-monthly throughout the year and will consider online submissions of prose, poetry and the visual arts. It is co-edited by Andy Stevens, who earned his bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg and now lives in Tampa, and Bradley Woodrum, who lives in Chicago. Woodrum holds a master’s degree in economics from Roosevelt University, and bachelor’s degrees in English and economics from Jacksonville University. Sixteen other graduate students serve on editorial boards in fiction, poetry, nonfiction and visual art, and they are scattered around the country and around the world, with one editor currently in Russia.

“These students have set high standards and are ideal examples of hands-on, experiential education at its best,” said Richard Mathews, Dana professor of English and editor of Tampa Review, who serves as an informal consultant for student editors. “They are active participants in shaping the literary landscape, gaining invaluable experience and giving back to others as they help build a geniuine literary community that transcends borders and invites participation.”

"When our readers visit TROn, we hope the experience is natural,” said Stevens. “We want them to feel like they're reading the way they always have, with a focus on the experience of words, and not the fact that those words exist on the internet. Many online journals tailor their content to the design of their website, which in many cases looks like a website. We've tailored our website to look like a good story.”

Currently included on TROn is a Q-and-A with Tampa Bay-based artist Jon Rodriguez; fiction by Kelly Magee, whose first collection of short stories, Body Language, won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize; nonfiction by David Salner, whose second book, Working Here, was published by Minnesota State University’s Rooster Hill Press, and others. Among its innovative features are a slide show of featured art, Facebook and Twitter feeds, blog posts by the editors and a Kindle download option. The editors say that audio podcasts of readings and interviews will be coming soon.

“What should a literary journal be nowadays? I don’t think anyone has the answer,” said Jeff Parker, director of the MFA. “But our students have given their answer in Tampa Review Online, and I think it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of the day. It’s a steady stream of innovative and well-written work that’s raucous and engaging and features up-and-comers and established greats.”

“TROn has skipped the typesetting eras of her predecessors,” says Woodrum. ” She is young, attractive, and gifted — everything a writer and a reader could want in a budding literary journal. And as the students of the MFA program cycle through the University, so too will TROn's personality and spirit morph and adapt to an artist community eager for new expression.”

“Like the MFA at UT, we were born yesterday,” Stevens adds. “We have no qualms about being the new kid on the block with a microchip on our shoulder."