Byzantium is the English department's award-winning annual literary journal produced entirely by undergraduate students. The journal’s stories and poems are chosen during annual open call for submissions. All work accepted for publication in the journal is automatically considered in Cal Poly's longstanding annual Al Landwehr Fiction Writing & Kevin Clark Poetry Writing Contests, for which undergraduate and graduate students from all majors submit their work. The winning poems and stories, along with the editors’ choice entries, are published in Byzantium. Along with the prestige of publication in the journal, first, second and third place winners are given cash prizes.
Begun in 1990, Byzantium has published literary works of remarkable quality, and many of the student winners in the writing contest have gone on to prestigious graduate schools in creative writing, including Columbia, Emerson, UC Davis, Houston, UC Irvine, Oregon, and San Francisco State, among others. Byzantium complements the English Department's creative writing emphasis by providing both an in-house publication goal and a capstone work that demonstrates our student and department commitment to creative writing.
Three English majors are chosen to fulfill the positions of managing editor, poetry editor, and fiction editor. These students work in collaboration with a student art director chosen from the Art & Design Department. Numerous English majors compete for the privilege of editing the magazine, and those who are selected usually have editing experience, business acumen, desktop publishing skills, a fundraising vision, and the ability to work collaboratively under deadline. The magazine has been cited for its literary excellence and has twice won awards for design.
The editors of Byzantium earn senior project credit for their work. Though the senior project is officially registered during spring quarter, the editors work on the magazine beginning in fall quarter. Working with the art director, the editors are responsible for all aspects of the publication, including raising funds, choosing a printer, laying out the text, editing the text, and coordinating a reading for the writers. In addition, the editors produce a year-end report chronicling their project; this report, along with the finished magazine itself, is the "official" senior project and actually serves as a manual for the following year’s editors.
Editing Byzantium is a challenging, exhilarating way for English majors to gain experience that can help them professionally after college. Just as many of the published student writers go on to graduate study in creative writing or jobs in publishing, most editors have used their experience to help them secure jobs after graduation.
Byzantium is distributed throughout the Cal Poly campus and San Luis Obispo each spring. View a copy of Byzantium no.30 Spring 2020 here.
For any further information about Byzantium, please contact professor Mira Rosenthal.