An homage to Allen Ginsberg, The Howl is a new online venue for young creators (grades 9-12), fittingly borrowing for their tagline as well, “the best minds of your generation.” As the editors explain, “Much as Ginsberg’s poem details the complex lives of others, we amplify the content that whirls out of the unique storms that young people brave.” An open-access online journal for readers of all ages, The Howl publishes on a rolling basis and accepts poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, scripts, photography, traditional and digital art, music, videos, journalism/op-eds, and other genres ‘best minds’ want to explore.
The Howl’s impetus was the desire “to design a space for young creators to share their work, receive feedback that will help guide their growth, and get a head start in the world of publishing,” the editors say. “For many of these teens, this will be their first opportunity to achieve these goals. We want to help cultivate the new generation of creatives by giving them a platform that is easily accessible, teen-friendly, and above all else, encouraging them to pursue their passions.”
The Howl is edited by a team of undergraduate students under the direction of the Department of Creative and Professional Writing faculty at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU). Writers can expect their submissions to be screened and selected by a designated submissions team and approved by faculty from WCSU’s Department of Creative and Professional Writing with a response time of one month. “Once a piece is accepted,” the editors explain, “any suggested edits are sent to the contributor for approval before publishing.”
Readers of The Howl can expect to see a variety of written and multimedia content from young, upcoming creatives. “Among our first published young writers,” the editors share, “are Lila Schlissel, J. Kontozissi, and Capra McCormick. We are looking forward to publishing the work of many more talented voices.”
We’ve been through some tumultuous times, but starting a literary magazine still holds great opportunity, especially for young learners. “Starting a magazine has greatly developed a range of professional skills for the team,” the editors explain, “many of whom are pursuing the writing field themselves. With better skills comes better execution, and The Howl continues to improve as we learn more through experience. Above that though, the most rewarding aspect has been having the honor of being the first place someone has had their work published. For young creators, this is their first step into pursuing their creative passions, and there is nothing greater than knowing we have contributed to that.”
Yet, there are difficulties to be faced, as the editors admit, “Realizing how financially demanding the process can be was a challenge. Although we now have thankfully been backed by the university, not having the money to invest in tools at first led us to discover many free resources. Our advice to others looking to start a mag would be to seek out these free programs because there are many workarounds you can use without spending a dime. Many newsletter platforms, graphic design tools, and website makers offer free options that work well.”
Looking ahead, the editors say, “We aim to establish ourselves as more than just a magazine for writing, regardless of our literary foundations. We are a magazine of the arts—we want everything that young creators can give to us. Encouraging submissions in art, photography, music, etc. is something we hope to strongly emphasize.
“We also want to become a platform for people to look toward for advice. Our interview with author and illustrator Karen Romano Young is a step in this direction, as we hope teens will watch it and feel as though they have learned something they can apply to their writing journey. We plan to add more helpful resources to inspire creators.”
Finally, the editors add, “The Howl could not be what it is without Western Connecticut State University’s Department of Creative and Professional Writing aiding students in their career endeavors, as the magazine is the passion project of staff and students alike. WCSU’s Writing Program offers diverse paths with concentrations in Journalism and Public Relations, Creative Writing, and Business and Technical Writing, along with a handful of specialized minors. It is an incredible opportunity for people looking to pursue writing to grow in a supportive, constructive community.”