By Alice Asch ‘22
Almost exactly a year ago, when Macalester made the switch to remote learning, Chanter Magazine was forced to move our meetings entirely online. As a board member, I—along with the rest of our staff—initially worried about our ability to keep Chanter afloat, but I’m delighted to say that we’ve continued to maintain a lovely community and release our semesterly issues. Every week, we gather on Zoom to review and vote on the writing and art submissions we receive, and although we can no longer sit together in the basement of Old Main on Thursday nights, we still have plenty of fun.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Maya Crowl-Kinney ’21, began leading Chanter back in September, stepping up from her former position as Literary Editor. She said that while she definitely misses in-person meetings, she’s grateful for the magazine’s “resilience,” and that “everyone, from our wonderful staff to our incredible contributors, has proven their dedication to Chanter and to the creativity it stands for.”
Maya mentioned that because Chanter has traditionally been “intrinsically connected to the physical space that is Macalester’s campus,” she was at first concerned about how to sustain high levels of student engagement, but so far, this hasn’t been a problem. Thanks to a new website developed by Public Relations Coordinator Aron Smith-Donavan ’22, the past ten issues of the magazine are now online for Macalester students to peruse. We haven’t yet physically distributed the Fall 2020 edition, but we intend to in the future.
Maya said that she’s been surprised by the innovative changes that Chanter has implemented as a result of transitioning to a virtual platform—for example, we used a tool called TasksBoard to help facilitate virtual collaboration during our layout process last semester. A very important day on the Chanter calendar, “layout” is when we copy-edit the writing pieces, choose an art piece to feature on the cover, use InDesign to format the magazine, and try to come up with a mix of serious and humorous people/places/objects to thank in our acknowledgements section (in previous years, we’ve paid tribute to the missing wall in the Mac Weekly office, “scrum masters,” Mac Twitter, and the “Zoom Quiet Room,” among others).
Last spring, layout took us a grueling twelve hours on Zoom, so we decided to split it into two days for our fall session, which worked much better—even though we missed sipping Dunn Bros coffee and taking a break to eat lunch together in Cafe Mac. To celebrate the release of the magazine, we held a virtual party on Zoom, where we invited published writers and artists to present their work.
In an exciting turn of events, Chanter recently received a generous monetary gift from an alumni donor. We’re planning to put these funds towards the creation of a Publications Suite: a space on campus where, in Maya’s words, “both the Chanter community and the Macalester community at large […] can utilize publishing resources such as photography, formatting, and printing equipment.” English professor Amy Elkins—our temporary faculty advisor while Matt Burgess is on sabbatical—has been supportive in guiding Chanter through the first stages of the Publications Suite. We’ve taken steps to locate an available space on campus, and hope to set a completion date for sometime next year. Because of our donor’s gift, guest speakers and workshops may also be in store for Chanter’s future.
If this sounds enjoyable, all students are welcome to join Chanter’s weekly meetings on Saturdays at 2 p.m CST (email [email protected] for the Zoom link). We also encourage any writers or artists to submit their work using the Google form on our website.
And, if you want more in-depth insight into a senior Chanter member’s experience, Asher de Forest ’21, our Submissions Manager, was interviewed on the latest episode of The Ramblings, now on Spotify!