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Opinions | In Medias Res: A beginning to an end?

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Mitch Rohrke, left, Chelaine Kirsch, and Linda Huard, right, stand for a photo at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon, SK on Jan. 20, 2020. | Heywood Yu

In Medias Res — for those unfamiliar with Latin, it means “in the middle of things.” For St. Thomas More College and on-campus creatives, In Medias Res is a means of showcasing literary and artistic merit.

It’s more than a Latin phrase: IMR is a student-run liberal arts journal. And it’s my baby.

Last year, the editorial board had four members and was facing the ever-looming question: should we call it quits?

Former editor-in-chief Emily Roberts had inherited the club from her older sister Hannah. But with one other returning member and only two gained, it became apparent that the workload wasn’t feasible for the few people involved. So instead of publishing two issues in a year, we published one.

And as we approached the submission deadline for that issue — watching the creative writing submissions trickle in from the general student body — I learned that I was the only member both capable of and interested in returning the next year.

IMR’s status had reached “critically endangered,” and I was the line between this status and extinction. I think you, as readers, know which decision I made.

I knew that in taking up In Medias Res, I was stoking embers. 

While IMR is open to anyone university-affiliated — professors, staff, grads and undergrads  — it’s been run by a handful of undergrads for a number of years, and the bulk of its submissions stem from us.

But it didn’t start this way.

Just as Athena sprang from Zeus, IMR was the brainchild of two former STM professors, the Corrigans. The publication was to serve as a forum for intellectual discourse relating to their teaching areas — philosophy and literature. The journal was first published in 1995 and has been published every year since.

I recently looked through the three oldest surviving copies of IMR, and I was surprised to see that many of the contributors haunt our campus still — as staff and faculty, of course. This includes St. Thomas More’s president Carl Still and at least three English professors — Sarah Powrie, Celene Sidloski and Sheri Benning.

There have also been contributions from notable Saskatchewanian writers Tim Lilburn, Yann Martel and Guy Vanderhaeghe over the years.

There’s a sense of legacy to the publication but still, IMR dwindles under my tutelage. And in facing the ever-looming question: “Should I call it quits?” I find my answer shifting.

Regardless of IMR’s future, it — as its name suggests — still has a presence. We are accepting submissions for our upcoming publication until Valentine’s Day. We accept art in addition to fiction, non-fiction, poetry, travelogues, essays and anything else we deem worth reading. 

We also have a theme for every issue, this issue’s being “revival.” Submissions don’t need to match the theme, but the pieces relating to it would have an edge over other submissions.

If in search of examples of successful submissions, many issues preceding 2008 can be found in the Shannon Library, and the newer can be found on the STM website. With volumes spanning 25 years, there is a wide variety of content and a noticeable shift towards creative writing within recent years.

IMR will also be holding a writing salon in the Chelsea Lounge at St. Thomas More College on Feb. 7 from 7-10 p.m. — in part to promote its upcoming publication, but also to foster a writing community and support undergraduate writers.  

IMR is unique because it is open to students of all majors and levels of study. It is a physical creative writing publication for students, by students.

So send submissions our way? Together we can make IMR’s 25th volume great.

If you are interested in having your art or writing published, or you’re interested in joining the editorial board, please send your work or questions to inmediasres@stmcollege.ca. To read the newer issues of IMR, visit stmcollege.ca/imr.

This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a rebuttal, please email opinions@thesheaf.com.

Chelaine Kirsch

Photo: Heywood Yu

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