Sunset Press is perhaps the most ambitious press on campus. This fall, the student-run publication is not only continuing with its usual operations — recently announcing the 2022-2023 featured writers and hosting open mic events — it also launched Satellite, an art magazine devoted to publishing visual artists’ works. This new direction is in keeping with the publication’s mission, which Head Press Editor Edward Moreta ’23 described in an email to the Collegian: “We want Sunset to be an organization that fosters community within Sunset itself but also externally in the broader Kenyon community, particularly the community of writers and artists and makers.”
Sunset Press is one of several student-run publications at Kenyon, but unlike the others, Sunset goes through the formal process of publishing students’ work and focuses on long form content, such as collections of poetry or short stories. Each academic year, Sunset Press chooses several writers to feature, and it surrounds each writer with a workshop team that aids in the editing and publishing process. According to Moreta, this year Sunset Press broke its record for the number of writers featured: “For the first time ever, we’re publishing four books, a goal we’ve had for a couple years now. We’re excited to set this precedent for future Sunset editorial teams, especially because our writer submissions tripled this past submission cycle and we think those numbers will only increase as time goes on.” He added that Sunset Press staff has also grown significantly this year. “We have 59 students on our staff this year. In part, our staff is double than years past because we added one more book, and we also have the biggest Art team we’ve ever had and that’s something we find particularly exciting,” he said.
Last Friday, Sunset Press presented the 2022-2023 writers at a Horn Gallery open mic. Students crowded the upper Horn, most sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the reader, and after each featured writer presented, students expressed loud enthusiasm and applause. The barn door was open due to the autumn heatwave, and the atmosphere felt warm and collaborative.
The first 2022-2023 featured writer announced was poet Bea Bolongaita ’25. Bolongaita’s poetry touched on themes of Filipino identity, colonization and religion. She reflected on the precarious identity of being an Asian American in a country where only recently her ancestors were put on display in zoos. In one poem, she regretfully remarks that her name, Bea, is a reference to the Beatitudes from the religion of colonizers. Bolongaita wrote in an email to the Collegian why she chose to publish through Sunset Press. “Last year, I worked as a Press Editor for my friend [Stephanie Chang’s ’25] chapbook SAINTLESS. It was such a fulfilling, rewarding experience. I became really close with the editorial team (there were nine of us in total) and it was the best literary community I’ve ever been in,” she wrote. “I have so much love and respect for everyone on the Sunset staff. There is no other press that I would’ve trusted with my debut chapbook.”
Phoebe Houser ’24 was the next featured writer; she read from a recent short story she wrote. In an email to the Collegian, Houser explained her writing process with Sunset Press. “The actual writing process is very boring, but I’ve had a lot of fun workshopping so far this semester! I usually share a piece of writing with my workshop group a couple of days in advance, and then we spend about an hour each week discussing how to make improvements or how to better bring out certain themes,” she said. Houser also added how workshops have helped her with the writing process: “It’s super helpful to be able to get such comprehensive feedback, and I really enjoy being able to get so many other perspectives on what I write.
Following Houser, Aaliyah Daniels ’23 read from her slam poetry collection. Daniels had profound command over the audience; she recited her poetry with passion, and her verse was so striking that it elicited an emotional reaction from the audience. Her poetry dealt with issues of systemic racism in America, one poem dealing with the struggles that “little black girls” face, particularly noting the high rate of black women who go missing. In other poetry, she made reference to Christianity, sometimes directly petitioning God to take notice of the injustice people of color face today. Daniels described her writing response in an email to the Collegian. “It always starts with the ending or just a phrase in the middle but never the beginning and I grow from there. I often will write one poem in less than two hours, walk away and edit it. I know when a poem is good when the rhythm of the words really rock with me and I am bopping my head like I do with music,” she wrote. Daniels was the Youth Poet Laureate for New York City.
The last 2022-2023 featured writer to read was Alex Aureden ’25; they read from a creative nonfiction piece centering around a significant friendship they had in highschool. During the reading, several audience members participated in the recitation, performing as the different voices in the piece. “I chose to publish through Sunset Press because of how welcoming the community is, people who were already involved encouraged me to apply despite my nerves. It’s a really warm environment,” they said.
Following the readings from the 2022-2023 writers, Sunset Press opened the mic to anyone interested in reading their work. The atmosphere of the open mic readings was casual and supportive; the audience attentively listened and enthusiastically clapped for each reading. Among others, Chang, a 2021-2022 featured writer and author of SAINTLESS, read a recent poem of hers. Overall, the event demonstrated how much collaboration is essential to the Sunset Press community.
Beyond the increased number of featured writers for 2022-2023, the launch of Satellite is suggestive of how much Sunset Press is committed to the creative community here on Kenyon’s campus. While some may be surprised at the new direction with the launch of Satellite, considering the origins of Sunset Press as a casual poetry workshop between friends, the art magazine has been one of the publication’s ambitions for a while. Moreta explained that Sunset Press originally intended Satellite to be a digital space during COVID, but the project was never realized. He went on to add that Satellite has morphed since its pandemic inception. “This version of Satellite is different from what was conceived by Sunset’s earliest leaders, but it’s still holding true to the original core vision: widening the scope of Sunset’s reach via a new platform,” he said. In keeping with Sunset Press’s desire to connect with the broader creative community at Kenyon, the aim of Satellite is to make student’s work accessible in a tangible format. The inaugural issue of Satellite will focus on textures, though Sunset Press explained that this is an open-ended prompt, intended to allow artists to interpret it differently. While submissions for Satellite are currently closed, students are encouraged to get involved by attending Sunset Press events. With four featured writers and the launch of Satellite, Sunset Press will continue to reach and foster the creative community here on campus.
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