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City College houses small literary press

Mark Rivera

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Since 1994, San Diego City College has been publishing local poetry, prose, fiction and artwork through its literary journal, City Works. The City Works literary journal gives local artists, as well as City students, a chance to have their work published every year.

It was while working with the journal that one of its editors, English Professor Jim Miller, came up with the idea of starting a small literary press on the City College campus. He and other supporters of the idea began to work on what is now City Works Press.

“Its focus was going to be specifically on publishing mostly local San Diego writers of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction,” English Professor Kelly Mayhew said, who is also a Managing Editor for the Press, as well as an Editorial Board member for the Journal. “So we started fundraising. We had a lot of contributions from faculty who paid in every month to help raise the funds to help get it started.”

In 2003, they also started what is known as the San Diego Writers Collective, which draws from writers and art supporters throughout San Diego.

The San Diego Writers Collective submitted a one-time formal grant request from the American Federation of Teacher Local 1931, which was approved, according to Professor Mayhew.

The grant helped get the Press off its feet by matching the contributions that had already been raised through the Collectives fundraising.

Since then, City Works Press has published 18 books of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. The Press publishes work every fall where all writers, including City students, are encouraged to submit work to be reviewed by the Press editors.

Every other year the Press also hands out the Ben Rightman Award, where an author’s work of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction are published in a single book. City students are also given a chance to publish more work through the Press’ Chapbook Award, which is offered exclusively to City College students.

Forrest Hylton’s novel “Vanishing Acts” was published through City Works Press as a result of being the latest winner of the Ben Rightman Award. His novel was featured at the City Works night of the International Book Fair Oct. 2. He describes the publishing experience with City Works Press as “fantastic.”

There are also awards given to City students through the City Works Journal, which offers $100 dollars cash awards to the best student entries in cover design, poetry, personal essay, prose/fiction, and artwork. The National Award winner is given $250 dollars cash and is honored at the yearly City Works reading.

City Student, Carrie Vigordh, has been published in the Journal every year since 2007, and was part of Jim Miller’s Honors English 249 class, which helps edit the City Works Journal.

“It’s a wonderful introduction into the world of writing,” Vigordh said. “It’s always nice to see your writing in print. It makes you feel accomplished, which invariably leads you to accomplish even more.”

“The model of the Press is to stay small and stay linked to the community,” Miller said. He added that “focus(ing) on local writing” is also an element of that model.

Fifty percent of the Journal’s work is done by City students, and the work is handpicked by City students, as well, according to Miller.

“It’s very, very rare that a community college would have (a literary press or journal), and it recognizes that we have this literary community in San Diego and at our college,” Professor Mayhew said. “It’s a real benefit for students to share their work through this Press and through the Journal.”

To purchase work published through City Works Press, or for submission details and deadlines go to www.cityworkspress.org.

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The news site of San Diego City College
City College houses small literary press