The English Literary Guild and the English and modern language department published the spring edition of their Black Phoenix Magazine after 25 years of inactivity.
The Black Phoenix is a collection of poems, narratives, short stories, essays, art and photographs ranging in a variety of topics. Annette Thorpe, now a retired English professor, first published it in 1978.
According to Thorpe, poets such as Mari Evans, Tommy Scott Young and Sonia Sanchez used to visit the campus, showcasing their works and speaking to Florida A&M students.
Seeing how inspired the students were about written expression, Thorne founded the Black Phoenix for FAMU and local high school students to submit their works and display their creativity.
Yakeni Kemp, English department chair, named Kendra Bryant, assistant professor of English, as the faculty adviser for the Literary Guild in the fall.
Bryant was given the task of revamping the guild. After receiving copies of the magazine from a colleague, she realized it was the department’s original literary magazine and decided to bring it back to life.
“The last one dated back to 1989, and there was another one before it in 1984,” Bryant said. “I was thinking, ‘Wow, this thing hasn’t been published in 25 years,’ and as a part of revitalizing the Lit Guild, we should bring back this journal as an official organ.”
The new edition is centered on the black cultural experience. Since the Phoenix is a vessel for self-expression, topics such as love, religion and spirituality, food, race, class, fashion and family are acceptable.
The magazine requires all contributors to be actively enrolled at FAMU.
Allisa Sans, a fourth-year English student from Tampa, serves as the editor-in-chief of the magazine. Sans also contributed to the magazine with pieces such as “Homesick (I Know I’m Getting Evicted Soon).” She has worked on many projects spanning from short stories to full-length novels, but she considers her role with the Black Phoenix an honor.
“Editing the rebirth of Black Phoenix has been a huge honor, and I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed working on it,” Sans said.
Co-editors Janine Alexander, a third-year English student from Fort Lauderdale, and Omar Stewart, a third-year sociology student from Muskegon Heights, Mich., also contributed pieces to the magazine. Alexander’s published piece was a short poem titled “Ghost Skin,” and Stewart’s published short story was called “Michael’s Tears.”
The English Literary Guild encourages students to submit works for publication so their aspirations of consistently producing the Black Phoenix can become a reality.
Alumni such as Dennard Smith, a 2011 English graduate from Newark, N.J., didn’t get a chance to write in the magazine while in school.
“I wish the Black Phoenix was around when I was in school,” Smith said. “I had a lot of pieces I would have submitted. I used to write a lot in my spare time at FAMU. After looking at the magazine, I definitely feel like it serves as a great outlet for the student voice.”
Bryant expressed her gratitude to those who made the revival possible, saying the magazine could not have been re-manifested without her fellow colleagues, student scholars and high-spirited guild members who supported the project with their submissions and editorial efforts.