Eclipse stands out in digital world

With the proliferation of personal hand-held devices and social media networks, some college students are more fluent in texting lingo than in the language of literary devices and poetic cadence.

Nevertheless, Glendale Community College continues to produce Eclipse, one of the nation's top community college literary journals.

"Very few community college journals have a national presence," said Bart Edelman, a longtime English professor and Eclipse editor. "We do. We have a journal here that I think graduate schools would be very glad to produce."

The annual journal, released each fall, features a mix of short stories and poems written by established professionals and Glendale Community College students.

"We make sure that we leave 15 to 20% of the journal for GCC students," Edelman said. "The point is they are published side-by-side with writers that sometimes they have studied."

Edelman founded Eclipse in 1990 to serve the local literary community. But in 2000, a grant allowed him to broaden its scope and take it national.

It now attracts top literary talent from across the country, printing pieces by Sandra Kohler, winner of the 2002 Assn. of Writing Programs Award Series in Poetry, and David L. Ulin, a book critic for the Los Angeles Times.

The vetting process becomes increasingly rigorous as the publication's reputation grows. The journal typically receives between 1,500 and 1,800 submissions for each edition, but publishes only about 10 short stories and 75 poems. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year.

A team of about a dozen Glendale Community College faculty members and students read and catalog each submission. Arin Keshifhian started working on Eclipse in 2003 while he was a student at the college. Now in his first semester at UCLA, 26-year-old Keshifhian said his working relationship with Edelman, and the time spent on the journal, influenced his desire to become a professor.

"It was a very good experience," Keshifhian said.

Eclipse has put Glendale Community College on the literary map, said Shant Shahoian, who teaches English at the college and helps edit fiction for the journal. Last year, the journal was one of two national community college literary journals featured during a conference hosted by the Assn. of Writing Programs.

"Having a journal of this caliber at a community college is extraordinarily rare," Shahoian said. "I can think of very few other community colleges that have a journal that could compare to the one we have."

It has also given Glendale Community College writing students a leg up in the hyper-competitive literary world. Students are able to use the experience to apply to four-year programs, and teaching positions, Edelman said.

Richard Niño had poems published in Eclipse in addition to working on the journal as an editorial assistant while enrolled at the college from 2001 to 2003. He is now an English teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills.

"I was excited just to see my words on the page, and to get to show it to my family and friends," Niño said. "But also I think what was unique was having the work published next to authors that you read and analyzed in class. That was special for me, to see here are these writers that you admire and aspire to be like, and at the same time you see your work there."

In addition, being published in Eclipse allows Glendale Community College students to be active members of a literary community where their words are valued, Edelman said.

"I think it is a great way to look at the world, as if you are part of that group that is making the language, that is writing the literature, that is doing the speaking, rather than just the listening," he said.

It costs between $8,000 and $10,000 to produce each edition of Eclipse, exclusively in hard copy, Edelman said. Funding comes from grants and donations from private contributors and various community organizations, including the Glendale College Foundation.

And despite the trend toward electronic reading devices such as the Kindle and iPad, there is still something magical about a book, Edelman said.

"This is something you can carry with you," Edelman said. "There is still something about having a book in one's hand."

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