Literature Club Launches JCU's First Literary Magazine Ex Animo

John Cabot University’s Literature Club recently launched JCU’s first-ever literary magazine, Ex Animo. We sat down with Stefania Piccialli (President), Marialaura Grandolfo (Social Media Coordinator and Treasurer) and Alice Bidetti (Events Coordinator) to talk about the magazine. All three students are English majors. Alice and Marialaura are expected to graduate in May, while Stefania has one more semester at JCU.

Ex Animo

From left: Alice Bidetti, Stefania Piccialli and Marialaura Grandolfo

Where did the idea for a literary magazine come from?
A: We wanted to provide an outlet for students to submit their creative work. Obviously there is the student newspaper The Matthew, but it’s mostly for news items. We wanted to give an alternative,  a platform for students who are writing poetry or fiction and have nowhere to publish it. Professor Shannon Russell, who is also the advisor of the Literature Club, really pushed us to make this project happen. She gave us deadlines, which was very useful. I was surprised by how many people submitted their work. Surprised and so proud.

How many submissions did you receive?
A: We got submissions from about 20 people, often for multiple works. We had to choose between 40 and 50 works, which was not easy.

How has the experience of the literature club been?
S: It’s been a positive growing experience for all us of. Marialaura and I founded it 2 and a half years ago. It’s been a challenging experience that has pushed us beyond our limits, also thanks to the professors who came up with ideas that we tried to implement.

M: We had different initiatives each year. We started with student-based lectures and discussions. The following semester we started inviting professors to discuss topics they wouldn’t necessarily cover in class. This semester we started with creative writing workshops. We discussed the collection of poems Beds for All Who Come by Susan Bradley Smith, who was also a writer in residence at JCU, and at the same time we gave people a space to write.

Did you find that there were any recurring themes in the submitted work?
S: Most submissions focused on travel, interior conflict, love, and loss.  I think a lot of young people write about their emotions, so it makes sense that these themes would come up.

What does the title mean and how did you come up it?
S: It’s Latin for “from the soul.” We came up with it through a Facebook survey where we  let the members of the JCU community propose and vote on different titles.

What criteria did you use to choose which submissions to publish?
S: We privileged people who are graduating now and study abroad students who are not going to be here next semester. We already have some works we would like to publish next semester, as we plan for the magazine to come out bi-annually. However, if we keep getting this many submissions we might publish two issues per semester.

Where do you see the magazine going?
S: I’d like to keep doing what we’ve been doing so far, as the response has been very positive, not only from students but also from staff and faculty. I’d stick with this format for now, maybe making some minor changes in the requirements such as the length of the submissions. I’m also in the process of recruiting board members for next semester, so if anyone is interested, please write us! I want to thank all the writers who send us submissions, they did a great job. Thanks to Alice for editing the entire magazine. Putting together the magazine was a great collective effort, and I think it is a great legacy for Alice and Marialaura to leave to JCU before graduating.