On the Banks of the Long River Review: Its Roots and History

by Hattie Wilcox

Will you find a treatise on why pancakes matter? The answer to whether or not Diego Rivera actually had a certificate from his doctor stating he was physically incapable of fidelity? Or the reason why certain Russians have been known to sport watermelon bowl hats and pose for photos in nothing but their underwear and boots in the middle of winter? The answers may appear in future issues of Long River Review (LRR), University of Connecticut’s undergraduate literary and art journal, so you might want to keep an eye on it.

In the meantime, light will shine on why Katherine Cannamela fell in love with her dining room table, along with the air and the view, during her sojourn to Firenze. Undoubtedly she was under the influence of abundance, via white beans cooked with sage and olive oil, or maybe it was the ribollita. In any event, she felt the love, and the Collins Literary Prize judges did, too, and awarded her poem, “If You Missed Me” first place. As for the Russians, in one of LRR’s early translations of the poem “For the Russian Soldier, Six Years Past Due,” you will ride a midnight train to Moscow with nothing left to vomit into the silver toilet.

LRR 1998 coverIt all started in 1998 when faculty advisors Leslie Brody, Wally Lamb, and Marilyn Nelson shepherded in the Long River Review in its current award-winning perfect bound format on smooth paper with yummy words and images. It morphed from University of Connecticut’s first student literary journal called “Writing UCONN,” a plain, economy zine-style, stapled black and white booklet of fiction, essays, and poetry. Since then, it has been a collaborative project between the University of Connecticut’s English Department Creative Writing Program and the Fine Arts Department’s Design Center.

Launched in 1983, LRR journal’s predecessor, “Writing UCONN,” was distributed statewide through the Connecticut Writing Project, funded by the project and the University of Connecticut English Department. The first issue’s introduction asked for a more creative name and cover, and stated that the magazine’s goal was to eventually include graphics and drawings. The following year (1984) an illustration of a daffodil appeared on the cover and stayed for the next seven years. In 1997, Writing UCONN made its debut on the internet.

Writing-UConn-83-cover-image-150x1501-2Writing-UConn-84-cover-image-150x1501-2-2

After eight years of the same quality content, settled in and sitting pretty in its redesign, the 2006 issue housed caterpillars, ladybugs, and eggs scattered in its pages. A photo of a clock plugged into an outlet in the sand by Mark Soares could easily stop a reader from turning the page too quickly. In “An Open Letter to Kelly Clarkson,” while listening to a socialist post-punk band from Sweden, author Dave Hanley reveals to Kelly he is a fan of her music. He confesses that he is not her typical fan, a 12-year-old girl, but a male, 22 years old, with “two week’s growth of facial hair, four tattoos, and a moderate hangover.” There is a stirring color self-portrait by Allison Valentine of a young woman with a pensive expression and two green apples hanging by strings beside her. It won a Gloriana Gill Art Award that year.

Long River Review Awards

In LRR 2011, two pieces of visual art were included in the plain china anthology of best undergraduate literary journal work: Sarah Parson’s illustration “Happy National Mortician’s Day” (winner of a Gloriana Gill Art Award), and Rebekah Chamberlain’s photograph titled “Ocean View Drive.” In LRR 2012, Kathleen McIntyre’s photograph “Bed of Puzzles” was selected for the anthology. LRR 2012 also won the prestigious Excellence Award for design from the CADC, Connecticut Art Directors Club.

LRR has come a long way since 1983. After fifteen years of “Writing UCONN” and eighteen years of Long River Review, the spring 2016 edition will mark the 34th year of UConn’s award-winning undergraduate literary journal of student writing, art, and translation. I better get back to work so I can I do my part to keep up the tradition. I’m cranking up “Till It’s Gone” by Yelawolf so I can ponder the power of pancakes and get to it.

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Special thanks to Jason Courtmanche, Lecturer and Director of Connecticut Writing Project, University of Connecticut Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Long River Review Archives, & the Connecticut Art Directors Club.

Hattie Wilcox is a creative writing and studio art major at the University of Connecticut. She is the arts liaison for Long River Review.


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