Michigan State University
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Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
The Offbeat Launch Party and New Issue
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The Offbeat Launch Party and New Issue

On December 7, 2017, the staff of The Offbeat, a semiannually published literary journal affiliated with WRAC, celebrated the publication of the fall edition of their eighteenth volume. The launch party for the journal, held at the Okemos location of Schuler Books, attracted a record crowd of attendees, according to faculty editor Curtis VanDonkelaar. Offbeat staff and their friends and family, Lansing-area literati, and curious shoppers listened to authors Steve Penkevich and Robin Tuck, two contributors to Vol. 18, read their newly-published pieces. Dr. VanDonkelaar noted that the launch party was the most successful for the journal to date, with upwards of thirty copies sold during the event.

WRA 480 student editors with copies of The Offbeat.jpg

WRA 480 student editors with copies of The Offbeat Vol. 18 | Fall during the launch party on December 7, 2017. From left to right: Sierra Richards, Cheyenne Nutlouis, Martha Spall, Natalie Zunker, Ben Bland, and Kristina Pierson.

The launch party for The Offbeat comes during a promising time for the journal, which has garnered increasing public interest in recent years. Produced by WRA 480 and 481 [Publication Management I & II] students, The Offbeat has established itself as a noteworthy, high-quality publication amongst nationally distributed university-affiliated literary journals, receiving over 200 submissions from hopeful authors during fall 2017 alone.

Indeed, many of these authors hope to place inventive, provocative, and often delightfully bizarre pieces in The Offbeat that may not be considered by more traditional literary journals. Staff of The Offbeat strive to create a space for writing that exists outside of or challenges literary conventions in terms of form and content, and student editors keep this mission at the center of acceptance deliberations. This semester WRA 480 students successfully staked out a plot of literary land for the wonderfully weird in the current volume of The Offbeat. These pieces include “Tip ( Q” by Louis Nappen, a parentheses-heavy exploration of the sinful delights of cleaning one’s ears; “Dishes in the Sink” by Matty Lane Glasgow, a prosaic experiment in structure that ruminates on everything from passive aggression to proverbs of ancient Hinduism; and “There’s So Much the Ventriloquist’s Dummy Doesn’t Want” by Matt Schumacher, which contains a code revealing the titular dummy’s sinister inclinations.

“What I love most about The Offbeat is that anything goes,” says PW major and Offbeat editor Jake Vaive. “The pieces are weird, the covers are weird, everything about it is weird. It’s fun being a part of a journal that proudly does things differently than other journals.” WRA 481 students are currently at work on production of The Offbeat Vol. 18 | Spring, which promises to be just as weird and wonderful as the Fall 2017 edition.

You can pick up your copy of The Offbeat Vol. 18 | Fall at Schuler Books in Okemos, or order online at www.offbeat.msu.edu. Interested authors may submit their oddball poetry, prose, and sequential art at www.theoffbeat.submittable.com/submit.

Written by Martha Spall
18 January 2018