UMN literary magazine ‘Ivory Tower’ readies for April launch

The literary magazine offers University of Minnesota students an outlet for creativity and collaboration.

Maggie Benson, Ivory Towers design manager, makes finishing touches on a design in Lind Hall on Wednesday, March 22. 

Courtesy of Catherine Dang

Maggie Benson, Ivory Tower’s design manager, makes finishing touches on a design in Lind Hall on Wednesday, March 22. 

by Katie Lauer

With over 700 submissions and seven months of work behind them, the students behind “Ivory Tower” are getting ready to launch their annual literary magazine.

To celebrate the magazine’s 2017 edition, there will be live music, free food, featured author readings and artist discussions.

While the collection includes original fiction, poetry, nonfiction and visual art from many English majors, several other voices are featured, too.

Maggie Benson, the magazine’s art editor and design manager, said this is one of many highlights of the publication.

“It gives students in non-creative majors a chance to be creative and showcase their talents,” Benson said. “We have a lot of submissions from chemistry students and engineering students. It’s not just for English majors. Everyone gets a chance, and everyone gets considered.”

Sammy Brown, a co-editor-in-chief and fiction editor for the magazine, agreed.

“I think reading through “Ivory Tower” gives you a flavor of the campus that you’re a part of more than sitting in a lecture does,” Brown said. “It’s cool that people are taking time out of their day to do something other than what’s expected of them on a syllabus.”

According to Benson and Brown, this year’s edition was shaped with the theme of life’s “momentum” and covers a wide range of topics from innocence and invincibility to doubt and acceptance.

However, crafting a cohesive magazine from such a variety of work is no easy task. During the year-long course, “Ivory Tower’s” 20-student “staff” is responsible for every stage of production — including marketing, development, editing and manufacturing.

That creative, collaborative, hands-on approach is what professor Jim Cihlar strives for while teaching the class.

“I think it’s invaluable,” Cihlar said. “There’s just something different about experimental education where you’re not just hanging out. You’re actually making something.”

With support from the English department, the magazine aims to foster a creative community on campus through various collaborations such as the Weisman Art Museum’s ArtWords contest.

Because of this, Cihlar thinks “Ivory Tower” embodies the important role and function of integrating the arts with daily life.

“Art, creative writing and free expression are essential to our society no matter your major or minor and are worth celebrating and preserving,” Cihlar said.

“[‘Ivory Tower’] is a textbook example. It’s not just a printed magazine — it’s an actual mission and community.”

What: Ivory Tower Launch Party

When: 6 p.m., April 26

Where: Weisman Art Museum, 333 E. River Parkway, Minneapolis

Cost: Free