August 6, 2019 1:49 pm

Glossy college literary magazines are increasingly becoming a rarity, as printing costs rise and content is placed solely on the Internet.

But not at Pierce College, where the time-honored student literary and arts magazine, SLAM, is going strong after 20 years — in both print and online forms.

“The fact that Pierce College still invests in this high-quality print product so that students and the community have an artifact of their work and time here is really admirable,” said Sam Snoek-Brown, assistant professor of English and faculty coordinator for SLAM.

The 2019 annual SLAM was published in late May. It features student fiction, drama, poetry, visual art and essays selected by the editorial board — made up of students, faculty and staff — from among hundreds of submissions.

“I’m always impressed by the quality of the work our students submit,” said Snoek-Brown. “Pierce College is rich with talent, and one reason it takes us a while to respond to student submissions is that it’s hard to pick from such an impressive pool of creative work.”

Snoek-Brown is a writer himself, with a Ph.D. in English specializing in creative writing from the University of North Texas. He has published four works of fiction, including short story collections and a historical novel set during the Civil War.

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” he said. “Mentally, writing and teaching go hand in hand. My writing would get stale if I wasn’t in the classroom, getting inspired by my students every day.”

Having worked on literary magazines before, Snoek-Brown believes they are an ideal outlet for beginning writers and artists to submit their early work.

“We provide a first experience for students, a lighter initial plunge into the nerve-wracking world of artistic publication,” he said. “Publications like SLAM aren’t strictly for our college alone. We send our magazine out into the world, too, so students can get a lot of exposure from their publication in SLAM, but it can feel comforting that you’re submitting alongside your friends and classmates, and that can take some of the pressure off.”

Snoek-Brown counsels budding artists about the need for courage and persistence.

“I tell beginning writers that the most important thing they need is patience — with themselves, with the work, with the publication process, because getting your work out there takes a lot more time than we wish it did,” he said. “This is true for visual artists, too. Creative work, whether it’s written or painted or designed or drawn or performed or sung, almost always comes from the deep, visceral wells of our souls. So sending that kind of work out into the world is very much about sending a piece of ourselves out there, and no matter how long we creative types do this work, every submission can feel like jumping out of a plane, thrilling and terrifying at once.”

Submissions to SLAM are accepted year-round. For more information, go to the SLAM web page. And check out the 2019 edition of SLAM, available free at locations throughout Pierce College Fort Steilacoom and Pierce College Puyallup.