Under normal circumstances, The Tower literary magazine hosts a launch party each spring at the Weisman Art Museum to celebrate the publishing of its yearly issue. But with COVID-19 putting a halt to all launch party plans, The Tower team has had to rethink the event.
Their solution? A multi-episode podcast.
“We chatted about sharing live streams of performances but eventually settled on creating a podcast,” said Afton Kelly, managing editor and chief poetry editor of The Tower. Kelly is also the podcast’s producer.
The Tower publishes student writing, poetry and art submissions, allowing students with creative aspirations to share their artwork. “It’s such a wonderful place to hold up the artistic pursuits of undergrad students,” said Catherine Tynjala, The Tower’s co-editor-in-chief. “This kind of platform is really needed here at the University.”
The podcast will feature five genre categories: art, ArtWords, fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Contributors to this year’s issue will also be reading their featured pieces. People will be able to go back and listen to pieces being read aloud by authors and stay connected with the University’s literary community.
Students who were set to speak at this year’s launch party are now planning to make appearances on the podcast.
“It allows people to have experience in this online space ... to make the launch party more accessible to people, geographically speaking,” Tynjala said.
University of Minnesota journalism student Hannah Kil had a poetry piece featured in The Tower’s 2019 edition.
“I made a goal to pursue the things in my life that gave me the opportunity to express myself creatively, which brought me to publishing my poetry in The Tower,” she said.
Through the podcast, staff and writers have the opportunity to learn skills like writing prose, editing and publishing.
“As a multicultural individual, I strongly value the importance of sharing artistic works that represent diverse perspectives and voices,” Kil said.
The Tower receives submissions from students of all walks of life on campus — from engineering to English majors. Sharing students’ different perspectives is a core mission of The Tower. On The Tower’s blog, weekly posts feature writers, poets and artists from around the world. The Tower has also increased its social media activity to keep people in the loop regarding what’s next for the publication.
“In past years, we’ve published things on social media. We’ve been sharing a lot of artwork lately,” Kelly said.
The Tower plans to eventually upload the podcast on multiple streaming services, but until then, students can listen to the podcast for free on its website. The first episode will be released April 29.
Catherine Tynjala is a former employee of the Minnesota Daily.