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‘Girls Like Us’ wins first place for Sigma Tau Delta’s Outstanding Literary Arts Journal

March 6, 2017

The Stephens College literary magazine has once again received top honors in an international competition.  

The 2016 Harbinger, “Girls Like Us,” won first place for Outstanding Literary Arts Journal from Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society.

This is the fifth time in seven years that the student publication has been recognized as the best by Sigma Tau Delta. Harbinger took the first-place award in 2009, 2010 and 2011 before new rules kicked in barring a journal from winning the top award two consecutive years. Harbinger won again in 2013, and in 2015, the publication took second place, making last year’s magazine eligible to compete for the highest honor.  

“Girls like us are daring, creative and intensely passionate,” wrote 2016 editor-in-chief Maya Alpert in the magazine’s forward. “In an age where technological innovation is valued above literary and artistic creation, publications like Harbinger foster the development of meaningful and intentional expression, displaying the absolute necessity of the arts.”

Stephens Assistant Professor Kris Somerville, the faculty adviser for Harbinger, said a staff of nine students worked on the winning publication. In the fall, the students solicited poetry, short stories and non-fiction submissions from peers across campus. After that, the student staff decides which works to accept and which to reject. During the spring semester, Harbinger becomes an official course for students. That’s when student staff members edit the selected pieces and decide on a theme.

“The theme comes out of the content,” Somerville said. “The students don’t start with a theme. Instead, they look at the content and look for a unifying theme, which helps give meaning to the cover and what the editor writes in the forward.”

The Stephens’ literary magazine debuted in 1920 as The Standard and aimed to provide English students with an opportunity to be published. In 1962, it morphed into Portfolio and expanded to include art, photography and literary criticism. In the 1970s, the publication became Narcissus under the helm of Eleanor Bender, who was also owner, editor and publisher of the national poetry magazine Open Places. The literary journal became Harbinger in 1980. 

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