Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Young writers getting ‘feet wet’ in Foothills

For nearly 60 years, aspiring writers in the University of Denver undergraduate community have found a creative outlet in the Foothills Literary Magazine.

Founded in 1946 by the Department of English, Foothills is an annual collection of poetry, prose, photographs and drawings by undergraduates and a portal into the publishing world.

The published students often are surprised by what it feels like to see their work in print, and several have gone on to publish in other journals. After publishing in Foothills, Dan Beachy-Quick, BA ’95, published a poem in The Paris Review, one of the premier literary magazines in the United States. He went on to attend the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and now directs the MFA program at the Chicago Art Institute.

“Publishing in Foothills gets [students’] feet wet and encourages them to pursue other publishing avenues,” says Brian Kiteley, creative writing director and former Foothills faculty adviser. “It encourages them to think about the business and marketing aspects of creative endeavors.” 

Phil Shaw, the 2005–06 Foothills editor, emphasizes that Foothills is not designed to be a commercial magazine, however.

“We aren’t trying to train writers; we’re trying to expose them,” he says. “Foothills provides an opportunity for students to express their emotions through their creative work.”

The magazine is edited and designed entirely by a volunteer student editorial board, and although the membership is primarily made up of English majors, it is open to students in all disciplines.

Editorial board members advertise for submissions in the fall quarter of each year, and according to Shaw, the magazine typically receives many more submissions than it can accept. 

Kiteley says the process of narrowing down the submissions teaches the editors to judge good writing. 

“They develop a culture of discussion and critique and learn what it takes to work together as a team,” he says.

Shaw, who graduated in spring 2006, says that his work on the journal has benefited his education.

“Any engagement in literary work outside of the classroom makes a person a better writer,” he says.

Laura Doty, the assistant editor for the 2005–06 year, agrees.

“DU has many very talented students in the arts and humanities field, and the Foothills journal gives these students a chance to shine,” she says.

The Foothills Literary Magazine is funded by the All Undergraduate Student Association Senate through the Student Media Board. Depending on the amount of annual funding, the editorial board prints 300–500 copies of the journal, which is distributed free in the Driscoll Student Center and in department offices. 

This article originally appeared in The Source, November 2005.

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