English Department student orgs here on campus are hubs for creativity, support, and success and the literary magazine NOTA (None of the Above) is no exception. NOTA is a student run bi-annual publication that features brilliant student-created artistic works.
Rome Balciunas, NOTA’s current Poetry Editor, is a fourth year Creative Writing major. He advocates for the benefits of being a part of NOTA’s community, stating that “Without NOTA, I would never have met the amazing people who are part of it! Everyone here is a great artist and a better friend, and I'm so thankful to be part of such a cool scene. NOTA is more than an organization, and more than a publication: it's a community.” This sense of togetherness is what shapes NOTA into a bridge in and around the university. NOTA’s features of art, literature, and music bring together students from interdisciplinary studies and connect students to opportunities in the Eau Claire community such as with the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild. NOTA is an organization rich with interaction and making an impact on and off campus.
NOTA’s community is built upon the many voices that take part in the innovative operation. In fact, Rome adds, “One of NOTA's most important ideals is community presence, and we strive to never lose that culture of openness that we've worked so hard to embody over the years. Not only do we freely distribute each issue across campus and the city, we actively seek community engagement through our events. Our monthly open reads are particularly great for this purpose; anyone can show up, read whatever they feel like sharing, enjoy a relaxed evening of listening to other great pieces being shared, and just generally have a great time. In the past, these took place in coffee shops, but now they're held safely on Zoom - and they're every bit as amazing and fun!”
Rome’s experience in NOTA has also been beneficial in building strong connections and gaining experience for his professional future. Regarding the former, Rome notes how his “own writing has continually been strengthened by my participation in NOTA. Further, the editing experience I've gained has been invaluable.” Regarding the latter, Rome believes reading the literary submissions for NOTA has allowed him to develop professionally and personally, therefore enriching his studies and helping him grow “as a poet and as a person.”
Additionally, NOTA’s success and excellence has only shown brighter through the member’s collective ability to overcome adversity during these unprecedented times. Rome observes that “We've all come together to make things work in the new normal, and under the leadership and initiative of our amazing Editor-in-Chief Angela Hugunin, we've done great with adapting these events to a virtual medium.” NOTA has been strategic and innovative during the pandemic, which has benefited the organization greatly. The virtual format of NOTA’s events has brought many new faces to the org and the online publication has allowed the literary magazine to reach an even larger audience, therefore keeping both students and campus culture engaged. “Last semester's issue was published entirely electronically,” continues Rome, “and thanks to all the powerful and poignant work submitted by the authors and artists in our community, it's every bit as excellent as we'd hoped!” The issue featured submissions that responded to the events of 2020, which Editor-in-Chief, Angela Huginin notes, “added depth to the issue while enriching both its timeliness and timelessness.”
Student participation and leadership is necessary in order to keep organizations such as NOTA running. Similarly, student voices are what creates organizations like NOTA’s unique identity. As Angela says, “I would encourage English Department students to give NOTA—and other orgs in the Department—a try! You never know what you may discover at an event—a new favorite written piece, a new friend, or a sense of belonging you didn’t know you were missing. I would say that NOTA is an awesome place to try out aspects of the literary process beyond the classroom. There are opportunities for submitting your work for publication, reviewing others’ work, editing, and getting involved with the local literary scene. All these things are great for professional and creative development, and they’re a lot of fun! There’s something to be said about the power of the creative community”, so, go dive in!
Looking for ways to get involved in NOTA? Check out all of the amazing events they host throughout the semester such as open reads, submission committees, and their book release party! Additionally, NOTA is accepting creative submissions of poetry, prose, art, and music until Friday, March 12th, 2021! If interested, browse NOTA’s social media for more information: Instagram and Facebook
Curious about what the publication looks like? Click on the link to view NOTA’s Fall 2020 issue!