Campus-based small press specializes in, seeking out student works
There are plenty of opportunities in Ottawa for students to get their writing published, but only the Ottawa Art Review (OAR) specializes in the creative writing of University of Ottawa students.
OAR is a small press run by the Undergraduate English Students’ Association (UESA) with its own editorial board consisting of editor-in-chief Megan McKague, Kristy Frenken-Francis, associate editor, and Hayley Munro, editorial assistant.
“It’s just an opportunity for students to get their work out there. We publish visual art and written art, so poetry, prose, essays, interviews, we take photography, paintings, anything that we can put into a book and publish, and we try to put out one or two issues a year,” said Munro, a second-year English student.
OAR has been around since 2007, and after a brief hiatus, returned in 2015. Over the past few years the press has been building back up to its pre-hiatus days, and they are gearing up to publish a second issue this year. Their latest, Currents, launched in February. For student writers, the OAR editors say having a small press on campus is an excellent opportunity.
“It’s really hard, especially when you’re an undergrad, people don’t know how to get themselves published—we actually have a place at the university that offers people that and nobody knows about it,” Munro said.
Submissions are open all year round and are easily done on the OAR website. While there are lots of international submissions, they maintain a focus on students’ creative works and are always looking for more people to submit pieces.
“We really care about student work, about giving people opportunities. We aren’t trying to publish some pretentious literary magazine, we’re trying to give people a start,” Munro said.
OAR has also been expanding their scope into arts-based events and this year will mark OAR’s first “Start Week,” a week of workshops and events to get people to “start making art.” The week, which runs from April 1 to 6, will feature a different theme every day, including photography, visual art, theatre and improv, and a musical bar crawl in collaboration with other clubs on campus.
OAR’s mandate makes them a great outlet for student writers and they’ve carved out a niche for themselves in Ottawa’s literary publishing scene. The emphasis on student writers isn’t just in their constitution though, but extends to the individual editors too.
“I want (students) to know that we care about the art that they make, and we think it’s valuable and what they do is valuable,” said Munro. “Creative writing is not the wrong path to go down if that’s something you want to do … and we want to help you do that.”
Currents is available for purchase now at the UESA office (321 Hamelin). Submissions are accepted year-round on the OAR website and are judged in a double-blind process.