When the Portal staff began the process of choosing the cover for the 2012 issue, we gave student designers in Ellen McClusky’s ARTG 344 class the Portal tagline to use as inspiration: Words to transport you. And transport you it will—this year’s issue of Portal will take you on a pilgrimage across Spain, onto a football field in England, over the Ogilvie Mountains in the Yukon, deep in the trenches of WWI, across the cosmos, back to childhood, through poetic philosophy, and up and down the peaks and valleys of adulthood. But the 2012 cover signifies not just the transporting nature of the words you are about to read, it also brings to mind another word appropriate to this 2012 issue: transition.
The issue of Portal that you hold in your hands—whether you are a VIU student, or one of our first-time readers from across the country—is a turning point in the magazine’s history. While the purpose and process behind Portal has stayed mostly the same (a magazine produced by VIU publishing students, featuring VIU student writers) much has changed since it began nearly twenty years ago. Portal 2012 marks a number of new milestones, some of which carry over from the production of the 2011 issue, notably our new mandate and tagline. Most evident, however, is this issue’s use of colour, and thanks to the astounding fundraising and ad sales work of the Portal staff, that colour is not just on select photo pages, but infuses the magazine front to back.
This year’s staff is as vibrant as the magazine. When we reached our fundraising goal on Valentine’s Day, it was the culmination of a labour of love. From bake sales, to a bar event, to rolling in Loonies wearing duct tape, Portal’s nineteen publishing students did what it took—they were in love with the idea of colour. We also had layout and cover designers with elegant visions, thirty talented authors and artists, and two publishing instructors who made our big dreams come true.
In December, long-time VIU publishing professor and fearless Portal leader, Rhonda Bailey, announced her retirement. This issue is also a tribute to her, and to all her years spent preparing eager students for the wider publishing and writing world. We hope that, whether you know her or not, you will enjoy the feature article honouring Rhonda that concludes this issue, and that her wisdom benefits you as it did us.
In the fall of 2011, when we first discussed the design of this issue of Portal, Bailey mentioned fleurons—which are used in classic book design, often featured in red. We fell in love. We also thought that a full colour magazine with red fleurons was a pipe dream, but here it is: elegant, classic, timeless—a truly fitting way to pay tribute to a mentor.
Though we said goodbye to Bailey, we welcomed the return of Joy Gugeler as Portal’s new instructor. Gugeler taught the 2011 courses during Bailey’s sabbatical, and suggested that Portal might benefit from national distribution, greater Web presence, and simultaneous focus on local retailer and print and broadcast outlets such as CHLY’s Be the Media and the Navigator. Accordingly, Portal 2012 will be sold across the country distributed by Magazines Canada. We thank Joy for stepping into big shoes—and look forward to seeing how Portal continues to evolve in the coming years.
Portal is a long haul for us: we’re all busily doing our own writing and taking other courses. To publish Portal takes determination and dedication from the students, even when it seems like the deadlines are impossible and the workload absurd. So, as the content settles into place—stories, poems, photos, and script comfortably nestling together—and the last spelling and grammatical errors are caught, the weight lifts, and the balloon takes flight. These words, transported to you.
Kaitlyn Till, Managing Editor, Portal 2012
Portal 2011: Words to transport you
It’s the start of the new decade, and with that in mind, the Portal 2011 team explored new possibilities for the magazine. We revisited what Portal is and how it could function more efficiently. We wanted to see the magazine evolve and grow. Like Don McKay, the 2010 Ralph Gustafson Chair of Poetry, we saw how the need to change is connected to nature and so we set out to make this growth possible.
We started the process by revisiting the mandate—to be a place where imagination meets the page, a place for provocative, passionate, and playful language and images. It’s an entrance into the creative world of VIU. It’s a place where words transport you. With these thoughts in mind, we started building our magazine, page by page, line by line.
Next, we streamlined the submission guidelines in order to make them clearer and, hopefully, easier to follow, underscoring that we wanted more scripts, creative non-fiction, and original art. We decided to make the voting process blind (the class jury didn’t know who wrote what), to avoid any personal biases and let the art speak for itself.
With a new, more affordable digital printer in Montréal, we decided to double our print run, which resulted in lowering the price of the issue to pass on the savings to you. We hope not only to sell more copies, but spread the talent of VIU writers further afield.
Through all of this we kept the heart of Portal intact: students publishing students. There is a deep pool of talented authors and artists at VIU, so the selection process is always illuminating and enjoyable. We encourage everyone who writes, photographs, and creates to keep us in mind next fall when we put the call out again. In the meantime, celebrate this year’s top choices.
The Portal 2011 team would like to thank Ellen McClusky’s graphic design class for their excellent interpretations of our name, mandate, and contents. With so many inventive contenders, the abundance of beautiful covers made it a very difficult choice. The cover we chose merges the real and the otherworldly, the fractured nature of publishing in a digital age, and the mirror we shine on student experience—glittering talent under a rising sun.
We would also like to thank Keith Harrison for judging our Postcard Prose contest. Though we had fewer entries than we’d hoped for, we think that the winning piece demonstrates how much can be done in a limited space with the right words. Like poetry, it is an experiment in form and style that reveals new ways of telling universal stories.
We hope you enjoy this year’s edition of Portal and move beyond the page to check out our website, and join us online through Facebook and Twitter to share your thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you once you return from the literary journey that awaits.
The Portal 2011 team would like to thank our designer, Tonia Olena Laird, for all of her hard work. With the help of her husband, Elmer, she battled through folio placements, text treatments, and pregnancy in order to create the best-looking magazine she could. With that in mind, we would like to dedicate Portal 2011 to Tonia and Elmer’s newborn son, Raymond Sloan Laird Estillore. Thank you again for your diligent, dedicated work.
Portal Launch, April 21, 2011