Vancouver Island University’s student-made literary magazine is celebrating its 30th birthday.
On April 30, students in VIU’s magazine publishing course are launching the 30th annual issue of Portal. At 108 pages it’s the largest issue yet and includes some special features to mark the occasion.
“The magazine just gets more and more ambitious with each issue,” said Joy Gugeler, who has been teaching the course for the last 10 years and holds the position of Portal’s publisher.
She said she’s “thrilled” to be part of the 30th anniversary issue, adding that producing it during a pandemic was an accomplishment.
“Particularly in the really challenging year that we’ve had with COVID as a country, as a city, as a university and as a class, it has been that much more [of] a fly-the-flag kind of victory where we were able to do it entirely through Zoom and e-mail and online back-and-forth exchanges of documents,” she said.
Gugeler said Portal has evolved “quite considerably” over the past 30 years. It started off as The Stump, one of a few publications produced by VIU’s creative writing club back when it was still Malaspina College. In 1991 students in the publishing class voted to change the name to Portal and it became a class-run magazine.
“It used to be a black-and-white publication that was printed on campus and just for campus,” Gugeler said.
Since Gugeler took over, Portal has become a full-colour publication now printed in Montreal and distributed across the country as a member of Magazines Canada, the national association representing Canadian magazines. Gugeler also oversaw the creation of Portal’s Portfolio reading series and national writing contest, Portent.
The 30th anniversary issue includes poetry, prose, scripts, art and book reviews by students from VIU’s three campuses. New features for this year include a portfolio spotlight with three writers from different cultural backgrounds, interviews with three literary magazines from across Canada on how they’ve weathered the pandemic and where they see the future of publishing, and interviews with three VIU creative writing alumni now working in book and magazine publishing in Vancouver.
This year’s student co-managing editors are Kiara Strijack and Dave Flawse. Flawse said Gugeler approached him to take on the role, and it was not as he imagined.
“I just kind of said ‘yes’ and I thought it’d be fun,” he said. “And what it ended up being was a lot more work than I expected but we still had lots of fun moments.”
Strijack said she feels “honoured” to be part of the 30th anniversary issue.
“Overlooking and editing about half the magazine was just really incredible,” she said. “A lot of work, but really incredible and really rewarding to see it all come together.”
Gugeler said it was an effort that went beyond campus grounds.
“With our designer being in Edmonton and most of the other students being up and down the Island – we have some in Toronto and we even had a student in the Bahamas – all trying to put together this issue that’s printed in Montreal and trucked across the country for a week and comes to our doorstep, that’s a truly international project,” she said.
The 30th anniversary issue of Portal can be found here.
WHAT’S ON … Portal magazine launch takes place via Zoom on April 30 from 7 to 9 p.m.