Ripe Stories for PLUM Magazine

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The votes are in, and PLUM’s 2023 contest winners decided

   In the late fall semester, undergraduate students who took an English class in 2023 were given a chance to publish in PLUM magazine. Established in 2007 to award Pacific’s undergraduate students for their exceptional writing, PLUM magazine adds a little competitive jostling to the English department—and an opportunity to showcase fiction, non-fiction, critical writing, academic writing, poetry, and an “everything but” category; not to mention, first-place winners receive a $100 prize and their work published in PLUM. Second place receives a $50 prize, and third $25. 

   Brently Johnston, a professor in the English department, has recently taken over as the Editor-in-Chief for both PLUM and Silk Road, the literary magazine run with the help of student judges. Johnston ensures the process from a call-for-submissions to publication runs smoothly. He helps get the word spread about the contest. Emails are sent and flyers are posted; all encouraging students to submit. 

   “PLUM showcases and shares the talents of Pacific’s student writers and artists with others,” he explains. “It is an important way for students to see what a bright and inspiring artistic community they live in.” 

   Once submissions close in December, they are sent to outside judges, hired for their expertise in writing. In an email sent to all participants, the judges noted that submissions had far exceeded previous years, and the judges went out of their way to note the superb quality of writing; all which makes selecting the winners harder.

   But, on February 2, PLUM announced the top place winners: Megan Farmer, a senior, placed first in the Literary Scholarship category for her essay, “The Laugh Of Defoe,” discussing how “Foe” by J.M. Coetzee works against feminism and how the woman in the story functions as a plot device rather than a character. Farmer also won third place in nonfiction for an essay closer to home, called, “Because You Wont Be Here For My Graduation,” in which she reflected on grieving her grandpa who passed away in 2020 and discusses her life since. 

   “Always submit to PLUM,” Farmer said in an interview with The Index. “It’s low stakes, and your English classes will always encourage you to submit. It’s not a widely distributed magazine, but it is an award that will pad your curriculum vitae and will look good on your resume.” 

   Freshman Reese Wood won second place for two of her pieces. Her essay “Mirror Mirror” placed in the Literary Scholarship category, and discusses how fairy tales princesses like Cinderella and Snow White are manifestations of their step mothers’ worst insecurities. Wood connected this idea to her own life, providing a personal commentary of how she views herself and the people around her who have similar traits to her. She also placed second in the “Everything but” category, titled “Obesity as a Form of Deviance: Eat or be Eaten,” where she talks about the social stigma surrounding obesity and how damaging media portraying obesity can be.    

   Wood was surprised to know that she won, and is humble about her work, mentioning the topics she chose to write about most likely stuck out to the judges. She is focused and passionate about poetry and creative nonfiction, but took a chance by submitting her essays

from her English classes. “If you don’t win, you get rejected. I had other pieces that didn’t win. But I believe the only way you can never win is if you never submit anything”. 

   General submissions for PLUM’s spring publication are open until March 1. They will accept 50 lines of poetry, 1000 words of fiction or nonfiction prose, or five pieces of art from Pacific undergraduates. Submitting in multiple categories is encouraged. Work will be reviewed by the Literary Magazine Class that Brently Johnston teaches, and the student judges pinky swear they won’t bite. Email by Friday, March 1 before 5 pm for a chance at publication.


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