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The Scrivener Creative Review reclaims its place in McGill’s literary heritage

The Scrivener Creative Review is no stranger to the literary giants of this generation. Established in 1980, the journal has published the works of writers such as Leonard Cohen, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, Louis Dudek, and Seamus Heaney; and contemporary writers like Sheila Heti and Sean Michaels. As one of McGill’s oldest literary reviews, it has incorporated fiction, poetry, art, black and white photography, interviews, and book reviews, into its publications. Yet despite its legacy of famous contributors, Scrivener has found itself somewhat forgotten within McGill’s literary community.

“I don’t know how we got lost,” Natalie Coffen, U1 Arts and managing co-editor of Scrivener, said. “We’ve published interviews with or the works of authors who have won the Giller Prize and the Booker Prize [….While] we have published important Canadian literary figures, we also publish emerging young writers.”

Scrivener is currently undergoing a revamp in order to reclaim its relevancy both inside and outside of the McGill community. This year, they have forgone their online issue in order to focus on a bigger and better issue in print that will be published in colour—a first for Scrivener.

“We’re really trying to rebrand […] Scrivener, since a lot of people don’t know about it,” Coffen said. “[We want] to get the word out. Especially, because [there] is really good quality [content] in the journal, it’d be nice if more people read it.”

In addition to its print issue, Scrivener has created a new logo and has redesigned its website. This website will also soon feature scans of the review’s old issues. This is to make the content more accessible while also preserving it for generations to come.

Scrivener Creative Review Logo
(Photo courtesy of Scrivener Creative Review)

“[The revamp] is coming at a time when online platforms are taking precedence over print publications,” Coffen said. “We think Scrivener’s history gives us an edge that should be accessible to everyone."

Although the review undeniably still embraces its McGill roots, the group is working this year to create something that will engage more than just the McGill and Montreal community in their literary production and history. In fact, Zain Rashid Mian, U2 Arts and the other managing co-editor, stressed that what makes Scrivener different from other journals on campus is its submission process, which draws from more than just the McGill and Montreal community.

“We don’t just publish McGill stuff—we publish internationally as well, so anyone can submit to Scrivener,” Mian said. “We do try and make it include as many people from McGill and Montreal as possible, […] but it is nonetheless open to pretty much anybody from anywhere in the world.”

The team has also been coming up with new types of ideas to engage students who would otherwise not be interested in coming to literary events. On Nov. 11, Scrivener combined forces with McGill Improv for an event that incorporated improvisation and poetry in the same performance. Poets had the titles of their poems, which were then used as a prompt for performers.

“Poetry readings aren’t for everyone,” Coffen explained. “Sometimes you’re just sitting there and you can get a little bored hearing people read for 10 minutes—it can get a little dry. That’s why we tried to think of something that would make it more accessible to all McGill students.”

As the Scrivener Creative Review opens up its submission procedures, enhances the print publication, and widens its online presence to reach to as many readers as possible, it is hoping to find its footing again and uphold its legacy within the McGill literary community.

This article was upated on Nov. 16.

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