From process to product: Conversation with managing editor, Sandra Morris


          If there were two words to describe the cover of this year’s Hurricane Review, it would be “surreal and dreamy,” said Sandra Morris, graphic designer for this year’s issue.
          Morris collaborated with Jamey Jones, Creative Writing professor and adviser for the journal, to help make it all come together.
          Around a long, mahogany table in a burlap-covered conference room, where photos of dead poets lingered on the walls, depicting a rich, literary lineage, the staffers (over pizza and vegan chocolate cookies) burned some midnight oil at the eleventh hour before the final changes were sent, with Morris comparing the original submission as another staffer read the proof while others followed along, quick to point out any mistakes that were missed.
          Punctuation and grammar were paramount, the words “ampersand” and “apostrophe” causing a funny bit of confusion at first. That, combined with the tedium of reading “comma” whenever there was a comma and making sure numbers were duplicated as intended—in written, Roman numeral, or Arabic form—was a labor of love.
          Though creative collaboration can sometimes end up as collaborative confusion, such was not the case with Morris and Jones, as their conversations were “about what we each want to bring to whatever we’re working on.”
          It was always about making the product better, which sometimes meant mixing both of their ideas.
          The process was a time-consuming one, for “we want to make sure that their [the poets’] work is put in the best light possible—that we do them justice,” Morris said, for she recognized and appreciated that the poets put a large amount of their time into their work.
          When it came to the packaging and presentation, she and Jones “put our own little spin into the final product.”
          Putting together a publication of this magnitude was more than a matter of copying-and-pasting online submissions, for a few came in handwritten, as well as typewritten; typewriting can be tricky, as the spacing in typewriting is quite different, and “some of the poems had a very particular spacing.”
          Another challenge was the translation from screen to print, for what may look right on screen can look off on paper.
          Deciding on the adjacency of the poems was like composing a playlist—a task which Jones was in charge of. It was important to him that “the one you read [before] has some kind of connection or voice to the one that follows,” Morris said.
          There are no plans (at present) to have the journal published online, for there is something timeless about the tactile experience of “the turning of the pages.”
          Morris said, “It was challenging, but it was worth it,” for she learned that “I don’t give up until I make it work.”
          A book’s cover is its first impression, and so much love went into its creation. The cover design “was taken from a little short film that Jamey’s girlfriend [Rachael Pongetti)]” made. The process involved “taking a still from a screen which was a lot of trial-and-error,” Morris said, meaning that it took quite a few prints to make sure that the coloring was right.
          Morris, as with the poets’ work, wanted to do Pongetti’s contribution justice.
          The literary magazine will be unveiled in the Anna Lamar Switzer building, Wednesday, November 28, at 6 p.m. Some of the poets who were published in the journal will be present to perform their work.