Touchstone accepting submissions, offering prizes


Often, essays end up tucked away in a folder or stashed in the back of a textbook. Rarely does the average student get the opportunity to see their writing published in a book. However, Touchstone, K-State’s literary magazine, does just that and even offers cash prizes for some of the best work.

“Touchstone is a literary magazine that features stories, poems, artwork, essays and anything that qualifies itself as literature,” said Jacob Euteneuer, editor-in-chief of the publication and graduate teaching assistant in the English department. “It is put out by K-State every year and features not only undergraduates and graduate students, but people from around the world.”

The magazine is open to anyone who wishes to enter, but Euteneuer particularly encourages students who are taking creative writing courses to submit pieces.

“First and foremost, undergraduates who are taking creative writing courses should apply because that’s what they are doing for the coursework. They are reading, writing and workshopping the pieces, it’s important that they have something to do with them,” Euteneuer said. “Touchstone gives them a venue to showcase their work.”

Once works are submitted, they are reviewed by Touchstone staff members, who are all K-State students.

“The majority are graduate students, but we also have undergraduates on staff,” Euteneuer said. “After people send in their work, it is sorted by assistant editors with the head editor of each genre. They select pieces together. It’s a democratic process.”

The process is anonymous and that judgment stays on the work, not the author, Euteneuer said.

“The people who are doing the reading are people who have read a lot otherwise,” Euteneuer said. “They have an idea of what makes a good poem or story.”

Approximately 50 pieces will be selected for the final publication. Undergraduates who place first or second in the fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction categories will receive cash prices up to $75. There are other awards for all of the published artists, Euteneuer said.

“For everyone, it’s great. It means you get published in the field of literature. It’s a great thing for resumes. It’s a great thing to validate your work, to say ‘I thought it was good, and other people do, too.’ It’s how you grow your work as a professional,” Euteneuer said.

Naomi Wood, associate professor of English, said having pieces published could benefit students in many ways.

“It benefits students in that they have the pleasure of seeing their work in print,” Wood said. “It’s an attractive way of letting people see what they’ve done. Since submissions are vetted, being published in Touchstone is a statement of value, versus if it had been blogged or something similar.”

Once finished, the publication is posted online and available in print copies. Last year was the first year that the publication was available online. The change was made for a variety of reasons, said 2011 Editor-in-Chief Lindsey Givens.

“We have also switched to a more economical and environmentally-friendly printing option,” Given said in an editor’s letter posted on the Touchstone website. “Previously, we’ve estimated the number of copies needed and then sold and shipped them ourselves and stored extra copies in the editor-in-chief’s office. [Starting in 2011] Touchstone has negotiated a print-on-demand service, which allows our readers to purchase copies themselves, reduces surplus printing, and allows us to use our funds more efficiently.”

This year, the group is expanding their use of digital technology to solicit for entries.

“This year, we’ve really opened up submissions. We have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, so we’ve already started receiving a lot of work from undergrads from the university, and people from the community,” Euteneuer said. “This year, with the digital push, we will get a lot more work submitted. When that happens, you can put in higher quality, and more stuff.”

Another new addition to the publication is the category of “flash fiction” — stories of 1,000 words or less.

“There is a lot going on in the world with new media and with the way it’s changing. Our attention spans are changing from looking at Facebook updates and tweets,” Euteneuer said. “We want to process stuff faster. Flash fiction arose out of that. You can still appreciate good writing, but in a compact way.”