It’s the Little Things

The 2014 edition of Portal has been sent off to the printers. Gone. Out of our hands. The 90-page baby we’ve been collectively carrying and nurturing for the past 7 months is finally ready to be born. All photos in their place, all text properly aligned, misspellings corrected, spaces deleted, drop caps coloured and bolded. It’s the little things, the small details the reader may not notice, that we’ve paid special attention to over the past few weeks. Those define Portal, and the high-quality production and presentation that our readers have come to expect from this student-led magazine are not to be overlooked. The talent featured in this edition will be obvious to readers, but the true art of a magazine isn’t all on the surface, as a magazine isn’t content alone. What would a magazine be without a stalwart copy editor behind the scenes, carefully scrutinizing the text and design elements looking for misspellings of author names, the correct accent on the French e, the proper em-dashes and spacing between words? Making sure text adheres to the house style, and that all ellipses, commas, and quotation marks are in their place is an important part of the magazine production process. Without copy editing, you can’t guarantee consistency throughout, which is vital when putting together a high-quality product that represents the best of VIU’s creative talents.

Now that we’ve completed the design and copy edit, and the file is no longer in our hands, I can sit back and anticipate the arrival of boxes and boxes of red covers. I am confident that this year’s Portal will set a new standard for the magazine’s presentation. The art team’s goal was to take the magazine to the next level as a visual medium: this involved utilizing 4-colour printing where possible, introducing unique typographical elements, and establishing a rhythm to the text and images. Again, on the surface, these seem like such little things, but I think you’ll see when you open your copy of Portal 2014 that these tiny touches make a big impact.

I believe the 2014 edition of Portal will be the issue that puts us on the map, and marks us as a real player in the Canadian literary magazine landscape. Thanks to the tireless efforts our art team, in particular, our lead designer Jessica Reid, and the designer of our jaw-dropping cover, Reese Patterson, we have established a visual identity and standard that truly stands apart from our competitors. It will be impossible to ignore this eye-catching production when it hits national newsstands in April, and I know that the combination of our class and contributor’s efforts will not be lost on Portal’s future readers.

– Kim Kemmer, Art Director

A Passionate Process

Like Stephanie, I too came to Portal in the second term. It was like coming to a party already in full swing, everyone drunk on literature and having an excellent time. To be honest, I was intimidated and for awhile, just wanted to go home.


I admit I had few expectations; this is my 4th year and final semester at VIU and having enrolled in 5 courses, the most I’ve ever taken simultaneously and I didn’t have time to think too much about it. All I knew was that I was going to be baking cookies for the bake sale and I’d get to read some really good stories; I’m always up for that. Not only did I get to read the stories, as one of Portal’s fiction editors, I was allowed to roll up my sleeves and actually edit them.


As a CREW student I’ve taken my share of workshopping classes and I am grateful for this. As a fiction writer, I understand what it’s like to create characters and love them, even the bad ones, especially the bad ones. In writing workshops, if someone reacts badly to one of my characters I am hurt. I want to defend them and force the reader to love them as I do; an impossible task. However, as an editor for Portal, I was able to find empathy, not only for the characters, but for the author as well. I wanted to love the story and the characters as much as I love my own so readers would feel the same.


Now that the magazine is complete, I am amazed by its beauty. Perhaps not amazed – every year the magazine is beautiful, thanks to the fabulous skills of CREW 430/31 students. I am appreciative I was able to play a part in the process.

- KC Brock, Fiction Editor


Extra, extra! Read all about it! Portal 2014 is coming to a newsstand near you!

As the Portal launch quickly approaches I can’t help up my duties have picked up. The press release is the key component of my job description, so I’ve also been helping out with other aspects of the publicity, planning events, writing articles for The Navigator, and helping plan the launch.

Writing the press release has been a learning experience. For starters, I’m not a journalism student, so writing articles and doing a press release was foreign to me, however, the opportunity has helped me grow as a writer. Looking at the finished press release before sending it out to newspapers, TV, and radio stations in Nanaimo makes me realize how proud I am of our 2014 team. A lot of work goes into the making of a literary magazine and it’s hard to believe how much can be accomplished by 18 students in two semesters: from fundraising to editorial, from selling ads to selecting art. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without all the submissions by VIU students and covers by Ellen McClusky’s third-year design class.

The launch takes place on April 10th at the Nanaimo Curling Club, 106 Wall St. Doors open at 6:30pm with the event starting at 7pm. It will be a free (yes, free) semi-formal public event and it will be catered. You can also enjoy the live jazz sounds of the John Lee Trio and listen to short readings by 16 of our contributors as well as our keynote speaker, Ross King. Portal 2014 will be available for purchase at the event for $10 or if bundled with the 2013 issue for $15. It will also be available at the VIU bookstore, Literacy Nanaimo and The Nanaimo Art Gallery.

-Natalie Golbeck, Social Media, Publicity and Launch Team

In the Studio

Hi. My name’s Drew, and I’m a podcast junkie. I woke up last night, at 3am, with my earbuds still on. When I got up in the morning, I put them back on, and turned on another episode of Marc Maron’s WTF. I can’t cook or clean without listening to a podcast—one time I left my iPod at a friend’s place, and by the end of the week my house was trashed. But as they say, imitation is the best for of flattery, and my goal with the official Portal podcast was to capture the same quality as the greats. I wanted to emulate off-the-cuff, insightful conversation and emphasis on both quality content and production value. I wanted to create something worthy of joining the pantheon of talents who are ruining my life.

The Portal authors have all done a fantastic job reading their work, and have shown they have a lot to say when it comes to literature, poetry, and just about anything else. I’ve talked to Philip Gordon about the process of submitting 30 poems to 30 magazines. Trevor Cooper has told me where he draws the line between parody and fanfiction. Antony Stevens has explained why indie video games are interactive poetry. Kim Kemmer has showed me how Spike Jonze is bringing speculative fiction to the mainstream.

My hope is that the Portal podcast will transport you. The authors have done a great job, so scroll up, click the podcast button, and transport yourself. Now where are those headphones…

- Drew McLachlan, Audio Editor

Glimpse Into The Real World

For anyone considering a career in publishing and editing, being part of the team that creates VIU’s annual Portal magazine is a valuable experience.

I am a 3rd-year VIU student majoring in Creative Writing. I knew I loved to write, but I had virtually no knowledge of the publishing industry — I had never thought to consider publishing/editing as a possible career option. However, after completing several publishing courses at VIU, my interest was piqued.

As a Fiction Editor and Copy-Editor on the Portal team, I have been able to experience first-hand what it is like to do these roles. Not only have I gained editing experience, knowledge, and confidence working on Portal, but I was also able to meet with the authors, in-person, to discuss my editing suggestions. This was my first experience working with a “real-live author” in an editorial situation and it allowed me a glimpse into the world of a real editor.

We personally connected and worked together with the joint desire to present the story in its best possible light. I also felt moved by the ensuing mutual respect and appreciation that developed between us.

So far, this is the experience that stands out for me. That, and feeling a part of the cohesive Portal team. Everyone has worked hard, and with passion, in their respective roles at Portal.

I am also looking forward to the Portal launch at the end of this term — the event that celebrates this year’s magazine. I am excited to see our new 2014 issue, which will be presented Thursday April 10th at the Nanaimo Curling Club. Hope to see you there!

-Lori Shwydky, Copy Editor, Fiction Editor and Business Manager