I interviewed Evan Litsios, a senior here at Champlain College and one of the editors –in-chief of the literary magazine. At first, I was not sure if his experiences with writing would be much different than mine, as we are only a year apart, but I was interested in his methods of running the literary magazine, Willard and Maple, how he is helping in the creation of the Champlain student-only edition of the magazine that is now accepting submissions, and where he plans to go after college.
I was lucky, as halfway through my interview, Eric Bieber, the other editor-in-chief of Willard and Maple, stumbled into our interview and provided me with some of his own future plans.
(Also, at first I was thinking I would interview someone more higher up and in the working world, going through the strides of making it on their own, but, seeing as I know absolutely NOTHING about what I want to happen when I graduate, it was nice interviewing some people who are going through the terrifying process that I will eventually have to succumb to.)
Me: Has writing always been a big part of your life?
Evan: Yeah…I guess. It’s become really important. Right now, I’m writing web/marketing copy at Champlain. I started writing since I was really young. Since coming to college, I’ve always loved lit mag and I’ve always loved magazines in general. I’ve never felt like I had that much say in a group writing process before. I always loved the discussions we had—talking about people’s poems…it was almost like a power trip. I had a say in what went into this magazine. I never had that experience before college
Me: What inspired you to become an editor for the literary magazine?
Evan: Well, I needed an internship, first of all. But we have an opportunity to take part in something on a global scale. We are one out of thousands of other literary magazines. Poetry has dropped, and it no longer has the audience it once did. I want to contribute to the life of poetry, and I want to encourage people to look at all of the poetry that is set before us.
Me: Why do you feel something like the lit mag is so important and essential to Champlain College?
Evan: The literary magazine adds another element to the writing program that many other majors do not have…It connects our community of writers to a much larger community that reaches a national and global scale. It’s a good community experience, and people who end up in class don’t always know what it’s all about—it’s a real world introduction. And, it’s a huge opportunity, an awesome opportunity—we get to put together a magazine that looks great that we put together ourselves as students. As students, it’s awesome!
Evan: The Champlain-only edition of the magazine has been circling around for much of this year, and Jim (Ellefson) has been mulling it over for quite some time. Our intention for that one is not just to represent the best in poetry classes, but represent all creative people at Champlain College. We’re waving the flag. Students are excited to submit, and not just the writing kids. The arts are underrepresented here, and people are excited and willing to help
Me: What drives you to continue writing and pursue a writing career?
Evan: Well, I want to contribute to the body of work that exists today….
Eric: (as he enters the room and sits in a chair) Heyyy guys!
Me: Eric, feel free to jump into any questions that I’m asking Evan. (I reiterate the last question to Eric).
Eric: Oh! Well I like to think of poetry as the beer industry. We’re in the business of craft breweries! We’re in a renaissance period! We’re trying to revive the art. I want to write some really awesome stuff and feel good about what I write. I guess that’s what drives me to keep moving forward.
Evan: People are hungry for beer, but they’re not necessarily hungry for lit mags. So my question is: who gives a shit about all of this? You have to find the people who do. I could write a ton of great poetry, but if it’s never seen by anyone, then it’ll never go anywhere. You gotta get your work out there. Send it everywhere, send it all over. It’s important that you are visible in the poetry world, even after all the rejection you might experience.
Me: What is your philosophy behind writing? Do you feel welcomed into the writing community?
Evan: I do feel welcomed into the community, and I always have. The writing community is great because we can sit down together and love what we do together. I think my philosophy is to just always keep writing, and keep doing what you love to do even when it gets tough to do it. Also, write everyday! I write everyday…maybe not 2,000 words, but I do write.
Eric: Yeah, I write too. Texting! (he laughs)
Evan: The way I see it is, I could be happy, or I could write. Or I could be unhappy, or I could write. Or I guess I could be unhappy and I could write. Either way, I’m writing! That’s the most important part to me.
Me: What do you think your future after college is going to look like?
Evan: I’d love to continue editing, and I’d also love to write for a snowboarding magazine. And before I die, I’d like to have fed a family and contributed good to the world. I love writing, but I’m not sure it’s one of my primary reasons that I’m here on this earth. I want to do good, be good. And writing is one of the many methods on how I can do good.
Eric: I want to be a hermit on a mountain, writing books, drinking coffee, eating rice, having a family. I want to be a rock and roll writer, though rock and roll-ers don’t get much money. And rock and roll writers really don’t get much money! I’d also love to write children’s books and continue editing lit mags. Maybe start my own lit mag too.
Evan: I really want people to give a shit about my poetry, though. I think we all kind of want that.
Eric: I think you write better when people give a shit about your poetry.
Evan: And I find that I talk myself through poems all the time, too. I think it’s part of my process that I’ll do forever. A lot of people have become successful poets by talking to themselves. And it’s also, like, the more you see what other people are doing and the different styles, the more you start to put your standards against someone elses. It keeps you on your toes, at least.
Eric: People put out their prime rib, like, it’s the best of the best, chief, take it away! We see that all the time in lit mag, which has really helped me see what sort of stuff people are putting out there for publication.
(Final moments of wrapping up)
It was interesting to talk to these two, as they are both complete characters (as evidenced in this interview) and both hardworking individuals. I can identify with both of those traits. I never really talked to Evan or Eric in depth before this interview, and I enjoyed hearing about the literary magazine process and all that goes into creating a lit mag on campus. Becoming an editor was something I thought about and am still continuing to think about today–for my next internship, I think I might want to give editing a try and see how I like it. Also, publishing is super interesting to me, and I love hearing about the process of producing a completely student-run magazine that has deadlines and due dates just as any other production would.
I was comforted to know that these two guys who will be graduating shortly are still a bit unsure of what they want to do after graduation. I’m definitely feeling this way–I don’t know what I want to do now, and I have a feeling I still won’t really know what I want to do when it’s time for me to wear my cap and gown. But they still have dreams and goals that they are willing to pursue even if they can’t necessarily delve into those dreams right out of college for financial reasons or what-have-you, and I think this comes along with the idea of the patchwork. They imagine themselves doing a myriad of things to pay rent and provide for whoever and whatever they need to, and I know that I will probably end up doing the same.
This interview was both fun and interesting, and it goes to show that you can learn a lot from the people that you cross paths with everyday.