In a February 1997 issue of the Collegian, Chris Hall ’99 wrote, “For those with any literary or artistic aspirations, Persimmons, Kenyon’s newest literary magazine, may be the place to look.” Now, nearly a quarter of a century later, Persimmons remains an outlet for aspiring creatives and is preparing to release another spring edition of their publication.
Currently run by Co-editors Grant Holt ’22, Cassie Coale ’22 and Sam Hafetz ’23, Persimmons is the second-oldest, student-run literary and art magazine at Kenyon, after HIKA. The first issue of the magazine was produced in the fall of 1996, with the organization’s objective being to encourage and amplify student voices through the publication of their writing and art.
Founding editors Heather Woods ’99 and Katie McCory ’99 strove to create a platform on campus through which poets could express themselves. The publication achieved this goal and more, as the first edition expanded beyond poetry to include prose fiction and artwork. Persimmons has grown considerably over the past two decades, publishing a wide variety of student submissions. “We publish anything that can be printed on the page,” Holt said. “Poetry, prose, paintings, photographs, comics. We’ll even take sheet music.”
As the pandemic has forced the world into an increasingly digital age, the magazine, too, has adapted. The Persimmons website, featuring a student-run blog, has been a major part of this development. “Over the past year, we’ve started to accept stuff that can only exist digitally,” says Holt. “Our website launched a while ago, so we’ve been taking long-form pieces like essays and movie reviews. We’ve also started hosting podcasts. We’re looking to push even further into the digital realm and post movies or animations.”
Persimmons accepts magazine and blog submissions via email throughout the semester, and staff meet weekly to evaluate and vote on the works’ potential for publication. Pieces are closely analyzed by all members, who seek out unique, striking and relevant work. Staff meetings are welcome for anyone to attend and are grounded in creative discussions and collaboration. Members expect to release this semester’s issue by the end of April, as submission reviews are finalized.
In anticipation of the incoming 25-year anniversary of the publication, Holt hopes that the fall edition will emphasize Persimmons’ roots. He intends to invite the founders of the magazine back to campus for a public reading. Woods has gone on to release a well-reviewed poetry collection, which Holt would like to draw attention to in the prospective reading.
The magazine staff also want to revisit the poem from which they drew their name. “Persimmons,” written by poet Li-Young Lee in 1986, was featured on the first page of the initial 1996 edition of Persimmons, and Holt aims to incorporate it into the anniversary issue.
Holt and the other Persimmons staff members look forward to the release of their spring 2021 publication, which will feature cover art by Eytan Cohen ’23. “It’s going to have some of the best art and writing on campus, and I truly cannot wait to get it out in the world,” Holt said.
Explore Persimmons’ pieces on their website, www.persimmonsmagazine.com, or find them on Instagram @persimmonsatkenyon.