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COAS Alumni Create Poetry Journal

Map Points Webpage

In June 2014, Shannon Elward and Ben Larson, English & linguistics alumni, created and published a literary journal, Map Points. The journal is available online and in a limited print run. Map Points publishes poetry, interviews, and artwork, focusing broadly on surrealist themes and the concept of duende. In less than a year, Larson and Elward went from planning the journal to releasing the first issue online and in a special print edition, and they are currently working on a second.

Elward started thinking about the project while working on a masters in English in fall 2013. She initially spoke with COAS’s George Kalamaras, professor of creative writing and current Indiana Poet Laureate, about the idea, “I mentioned that I’d like to do some publishing work, and he said I should think about starting a poetry journal. At first, I wasn’t sure because it was so intimidating. But it stuck in my mind, especially in spring 2014 when I started English C620, Publications Management, with Cathleen M. Carosella. She encouraged me to try creating one for my individual project.” Elward then contacted Larson, a fellow English graduate student and long-time friend, and asked if he would be part of the project. Larson readily agreed. Together, they used Elward’s journal development project from the publications management class and faculty mentorship to create the journal.

For the first issue, they requested creative work from fellow students, colleagues, and professors. They were thrilled when Kalamaras responded to the request. “We had sent him a letter, asking him to submit a poem. He responded back asking if he could send the request to some of his friends. We were like, ‘yes please!’ We got some really big names in the first issue because of that.” They received poems from seven poets, including well-known poets Kalamaras, John Bradley (Northern Illinois University), and Ray Gonzalez (University of Minnesota).

After getting enough submissions, Elward and Larson put together Map Points. Though the journal is primarily online, they wanted a limited print edition to sell at the launch party. Elward said the process of creating a print journal was “a lot of trial and error” that “took a long time.” Larson agreed, adding that it was challenging “choosing the right margins and fonts, figuring out how to lay out the thing and do the grunt work to make it look good.” They also needed a platform for the online portion, so they approached Adam Garland, a Fort Wayne photographer and designer, for help. Garland offered to create the website and cover art.

The first issue of Map Points went live in June 2014. Larson and Elward hosted a launch party at Wunderkrammer Company, a Fort Wayne art gallery and community meeting space. According to Elward, “we were nervous that there wasn’t going to be a very good turnout, people weren’t going to like it, and no one was going to buy it. There were a lot of those fears going through our heads, especially in the weeks leading up to it. But it was a great turnout and a great response. We had some big name poets tell us it was fantastic and very professionally done.”

Larson and Elward are thankful for the support from COAS faculty. Larson said, “this definitely would not have happened without the support, guidance, and encouragement from George Kalamaras. He has been a mentor to both Shannon and I for years and has continually pushed us. In addition to that, being surrounded at IPFW by other poets whom we both admire–like Curtis Crisler and Sarah Sandman–helped give us the feeling that we were in a creative community, and this is something that always helps when you are doing a project like this. Most creativity does not happen in a vacuum, and the inspiration we have gotten from others at IPFW has been instrumental in our work.”

If you are interested in submitting creative writing or artwork to Map Points, submit your work here. If you are interested in learning more about Map Points, read the first issue here or contact Elward and Larson. For information on classes and degrees in English and creative writing, contact COAS’s Department English and linguistics.