The 12th edition of University of Maine’s undergraduate literary magazine The Open Field debuted on Thursday, April 13 and is complete with stunning works of poetry, fiction and visual art. Fourth-year Julia Hills and third-year Paige McHatten are the co-editors of the publication and have been working tirelessly since the fall 2022 semester to publish the spring 2023 edition. The launch party for their publication was a huge success.
“It’s always really special to have everyone in one room and also have the opportunity to read. That’s something that kind of got lost in COVID, is not having these gathering places where we can just be creative and share that with other people,” McHatten said.
They are especially excited to have had the opportunity to print a hard copy of the publication, something that has become more elusive since the pandemic.
“The magazine has ebbed and flowed over the past couple of years. In spring of 2021 we only had an online PDF version of the magazine, so since joining the editing team I’ve been really motivated to get that print edition back up and running,” McHatten said.
The pair emphasized the importance of having a printed edition and how it can change the reader’s experience.
“There’s something so special about being published in general…but then to actually be able to hold it in your hands and kind of point to something and be like ‘I made this,’” McHatten said.
This is McHatten’s second time being on the editorial board for The Open Field, and it is Hills’ first.
“I didn’t have any experience with The Open Field before this and I didn’t know it was online because of COVID. I can only imagine how incredibly exciting it is for Paige to see everyone hold it with so much glee,” Hills said.
Although the two encountered a few minute challenges, production was generally a smooth process. They largely attributed this lack of obstacles to having each other to collaborate with. Even if challenges persisted, such as navigating color printing and type-setting, the editors leaned on one another for support.
“Working with Julia has been really wonderful and I feel like we’ve been able to create something pretty challenge-free which is pretty unique,” McHatten stated.
Although the co-editors were not acquainted prior to collaborating on The Open Field, they found that they had similar visions for this year’s edition. The physical copy of The Open Field is incredibly aesthetic. The cover, which displays a calming pastel color palette and collage-like design, was created by Julia Hills.
“We wanted to call attention to the name and have natural elements but also have it be minimalist fun, and we wanted that collage look too,” McHatten said.
When a call for submissions was originally posted, the literary work received was few and far between. To increase submissions, they sent follow-up emails and extended the deadline.
“It’s encouraging people that their work is submittable, that we want to see their work,” McHatten said.
An aspect of the creation process that Hills specifically enjoyed was getting to read all the submissions. She emphasized the sheer talent of many writers on the UMaine campus and how important it is for their work to be recognized.
“It gives me so much joy and hope for the future,” Hills said.
The event to celebrate the completion of The Open Field was held in the IMRC and featured concessions, readings and music. It was incredibly successful and the co-editors were thrilled with how it turned out.
“Working with the entire team and gathering a sense of community within the English department has been such a blessing,” McHatten said.
The co-editors are incredibly grateful to each other, the contributors and faculty members Dr. Hollie Adams and Dr. Jennifer Moxley who supervised its creation.