Uncategorized | August 28, 2015

Education Concept

By Kristine Somerville

From my odd little perch at the Missouri Review, year after year I’ve observed a number of back-to-school rituals. First and perhaps most significant to us is that we get a surge of submissions. Manuscripts pop up on-line by the minute and daily our postal delivery person brings in a hefty bundle of mail. During the summer “the physicals,” as we call them, come in at a slow trickle while on-line submissions dip enough to allow us to take vacations. The steady infusion of submissions is one of the benefits of being a magazine that reads year-round.

Of course Facebook reveals a lot about how students and teachers get ready for school. There are plenty of pictures of new faculty: before and after shots of their offices, snaps of their faculty IDs, happy-hour gatherings with colleagues and stories about first-day jitters. Then there are the children: for several weeks I’ve been “liking” photos posted by proud parents of chipper grade-school kids posed under a tree and outfitted in weighted-down backpacks, blinding neon tennis shoes, and retro lunch boxes. Of course high schoolers put up their own photos, mostly selfies of new best friends, trendy outfits and haircuts, and last minutes trips to the lake. My favorite photos are of parents dropping off their kids at college, their Subaru Outbacks packed with the accoutrements of dorm life— images that always evoke the opening scene of Delillos’ White Noise.

Around here we’ve been tidying up our offices that get overrun with books, manuscripts, and, in my case, bowls of candy. I use back-to-school as an excuse to add to my already sufficient teaching wardrobe, my reward for having my syllabi and assignments ready on-time. In fact, this semester I am going back to school both as a teacher and a student. In preparation for a future class that I am teaching that blends fashion, film and literature, I am taking a fashion history course. Sitting in the classroom as a student is like going out to eat rather than preparing dinner at home; how things come out is not your problem. By the way, if anyone has any favorite novels in which “dress” plays an important part please let me know.

I asked my colleagues around the office about their back-to-school rituals. Our editor Speer Morgan got a haircut and is styling new jeans, our assistant managing editor Dedra Earl stocked her office with healthy snacks for her work-study students, our new office assistants Phoebe Rogers and Mysti-Ané Pearce re-trained themselves to go to bed early. Web-editor Christina Bramon’s daughter assembled and photographed a week’s worth of outfits (a girl after my heart). And someone who would like to remain anonymous takes sleeping pills and listens to relaxation tapes.

For us, the best part of back-to-school is welcoming new interns and graduate students. We are fortunate every semester to have a group of devotees of literature who are ready to take on all the tasks we throw at them, big or small. So after a fairly quiet summer, the offices of TMR become once again a buzzing hive of activity. Let school begin.

What’s you back to school ritual? We’d love to hear about it.

Shameless plug: Make submitting to Editors’ Prize part of your back-to-school ritual. Winning $5,000 will make next year’s semester send-off even snazzier.