Toward the end of this academic year, a student group called The Subway Ride will launch a magazine and blog that will include art, writing, and any other creative forms. Since most publications on campus focus on specific goals or audiences, the goal of The Subway Ride will be to create a space that includes an infinitely broad audience and contributor base.
The initial idea came from a First Year Seminar that two current group members, Haenah Kwon ’17 and Siri McGuire ’17, took in the fall of 2013 called RELI286 The Examined Life: Religion and Philosophy on the Art of Living, taught by Assistant Professor of Religion Elisha Russ-Fishbane. After reading various philosophical and religious articles, which spanned from ancient to modern times and covered both the Eastern and Western worlds, the class discussed how all the writers shared a love for humanity.
Another topic that the class focused on was the way that University students criticize writing. The students worked toward learning how to appreciate authors for the humanity that they express, instead of reading with such a critical eye.
“We were truly inspired,” Kwon said. “We wanted to start something at Wesleyan where, in the midst of all the smart and sharp criticisms, we can celebrate living and being human.”
Kwon and McGuire sat down one day with Caren Ye ’17 and Shoko Yamada ’17 to plan the logistics of the group. They wrote their mission statement after a prolonged period of debate and decided that they wanted to call the magazine a “human expression” magazine, as opposed to an art magazine, in order to open up submissions to those who do not identify their work as art.
Kwon stressed that the formation of the group was a collaborative process. Since none of the participants in these initial discussions had experience in publishing a magazine, they reached out to other friends for help. The group currently has nine members, and it hopes to recruit more over the next few weeks.
“I would not say it was started by only a few of us,” Kwon said. “The creation of The Subway Ride was a long and very enjoyable process led by the whole team.”
The name for the group refers to the temporary community that a subway car creates. In the same way that authors in their class wrote from a huge variety of time periods and locations yet were all unified by a love of humanity, members of a subway car are united in space and direction despite all the different factors of their respective lives. This unrestrained space mirrors the space that the founders and contributors of The Subway Ride want to create: one without boundaries or limitations.
Each edition will focus on a different theme. The first issue’s theme for submissions is “Terminal,” a word that both relates to the name of the magazine and also provides a plethora of creative pathways. The word can imply either a beginning or an end and it can also be interpreted in a concrete or abstract context, thereby supplying many ways that writers can contribute. The theme is suggested, but not mandatory.
An essential aspect of The Subway Ride is that it is not limited to University students. Kwon and Ye handed out “subway tickets” detailing their goals and requesting submissions around campus and in Middletown. They also promoted their group through specific organizations and websites, such as Wesleying, WesAge (a program that connects University students with senior citizens in Middletown), and Vinnie’s Jump and Jive (a community dance hall in Middletown).
The group also reached out to alumni and Bon Appetit staff members. Two members of the group, Gabriella Montinola ’17 and Tai Taliaoa ’17, were sitting in Usdan one night when they handed one of these tickets to a Usdan staff member, Charlene Deschane. She ended up submitting a picture of herself to the magazine with a large fish she had caught.
“There are so many people you ignore on a daily basis because they aren’t Wesleyan students,” Montinola said. “We gave [Charlene] a subway ticket and began a 25-minute conversation about fishing, orbs, and how good Charlene is at card games because of the time she lived on a tiny boat with her husband.”
One of the contributors is a Middletown resident, Shin Wakabayashi, who contributed charcoal drawings to the publication. He met Kwon and Taliaoa through WesBreakers, a breakdancing team on campus in which all three participate.
“The Subway Ride is a great idea for a magazine since it acts as another bridge to connect with people outside Wesleyan,” Wakabayashi said. “It seems like a very open magazine, and I’m excited to see it develop.”
The magazine’s tentative printing deadline is May 2, and the blog will launch at the beginning of summer break.