Jimson Weed Rides Wave of Spring Submissions

The submissions deadline for the biannual “Jimson Weed” literary journal isn’t until Feb. 22, but the journal already has received over thirty-five submissions in just the first week they were open.

“The submissions deadline usually allows submitters a month to send in their work,” said Tessa McCoy, chief managing editor at “Jimson Weed”. “For the most part, very few submissions trickle in during the first three weeks. The last week before the deadline, however, is when most submissions come through. That is why the 40 submissions we received within the first week after setting the deadline was so exciting and unusual.”

“Jimson Weed” chief editor Tessa McCoy  Photo: Madison Ray | The Highland Cavalier
“Jimson Weed” chief editor Tessa McCoy.
Photo: Madison Ray | The Highland Cavalier

Once all of the submissions are in and the deadline has passed, McCoy and her editing team will decide what will make it in and what needs to be cut. The first task, as McCoy explained, is to remove the names of the author from each piece and assign each one a number. McCoy, a senior communications major at UVa-Wise, is aided in this task by Assistant Managing Editor and senior English and history major Connie Little. This is done to assure anonymity when the rest of the members read the submissions and assign them a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.”

McCoy spoke of how this was an exciting and fun experience as the entire Jimson Weed staff gathers together to eat pizza and review every article. The “yes” pile is used to create that semester’s Jimson Weed while the “no” and “maybe” piles are saved. After this step, McCoy and Little reread each submission, looking for grammatical and punctuation errors.

“Fortunately for us, Dr. (Gillian) Huang-Tiller and Dr. (Kenneth) Tiller provide tremendous help with the editing process,” said McCoy. “We could not do it without their knowledge and expertise. Being a Jimson Weed staff takes dedication and hard work. We have a great group this semester.”

The high volume of submissions was not the only exciting news at “Jimson Weed”. The group, which also hosts a coffee night each semester, recently announced that their guest speaker this semester will be author, director and Wise County native Adrianna Trigiani.

Trigiani has written several books, including: “Big Stone Gap”, “Big Cherry Holler”, “The Shoemaker’s Wife” and “All the Stars in the Heavens”. She was also recently in Big Stone Gap to direct and shoot the movie adaptation of her book named after the town. The film stars Ashley Judd, Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Wilson and Jenna Elfman and includes many town and county residents in the cast. The project was a big hit with the local community and several students and faculty members from UVa-Wise aided in the event.

This semester’s publication of “Jimson Weed” will McCoy’s second effort as the journal’s chief managing editor. She said that she had submitted to “Jimson Weed” before while at UVa-Wise and also had known her predecessor in the editor’s chair. When the position became available at the start of this year, McCoy said she became interested and applied.

With McCoy graduating at the end of this semester, “Jimson Weed” will soon be in need of a new editor.

“All I want for Jimson Weed is for future chief managing editors to take the position seriously, to go above and beyond their job descriptions, be excellent leaders and listeners, and to allow the journal to be a representation of the submissions, not of themselves,” said McCoy. “If each chief managing editor can do that, I feel certain the journal will take care of itself. Sounds like I’m personifying “Jimson Weed”, but the editing process really is organic and what emerges after all that time and hard work is its own entity. We are just the vehicle in which it arrives.”

“Jimson Weed” will continue accepting submissions for its next publication until Feb. 22. Submissions should be sent to tlm7h@uvawise.edu with the subject line “Jimson Weed Submission.” All forms of art are welcome from any student, regardless of their major or year. So whether you write poetry, short stories, or even draw, you are encouraged to submit your work this semester to “Jimson Weed”.

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