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New class breathes new life into 'Signet,' Queens' literary journal

SignetStudents fill ‘Signet’ with evocative prose, poetry and art

For more than 50 years, Queens students have faithfully and lovingly filled the pages of the Signet literary journal with prose, poetry and art.

The annual project is now tied to a new creative writing class for sophomores, juniors and seniors who produce the magazine.  The students learn to comb through submissions, edit those that make the cut, and design the book, making the project a hands-on dive into real publishing.

Last year, the class completely redesigned the journal, giving it a fresh new look, and more students than ever became involved in its production, as contributors, editors and ambassadors. 

The 2010 volume drew triple the usual number of submissions and the result is a vibrant, polished publication full of evocative poetry, prose and art.

While the subjects haven't changed much through the years - romance, existentialism and challenging of norms are common themes - the writing is passionate.  And that's the magazine's purpose - to communicate and inspire passion for literature and art, says advisor Craig Renfroe, assistant professor in the Department of English, Drama and Creative Writing.

Spinoff activities include semiannual campus readings and a trip by top Signet editors to AWP, a national writers conference, where they meet other literary magazine editors and get ideas to bring back to Queens.

Senior Justin Lafreniere, who helped edit the 2010 Signet, and who returns as its senior editor in 2010-11, said the journal's staff wants to solicit more pieces from more people across campus, not just those in English-related majors.

"I like the way words look on the page, the way words sound, and also the feelings and emotions you can create," he said. "Books don't discriminate. Anyone can pick up a book, and all they have to do is listen to the words on the page to feel something."
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