Historical Introduction

This book is dedicated to all writers who seek to transmute
the daily bread of their experience into the radiant body of art.

All the following stories and poems were written by students at San Fernando Valley State College and California State University, Northridge, and all were published in various literary magazines edited and produced by students on this campus. The works appearing in this special collection, drawn from thirty-six separate publications, were selected for their excellence by an editorial board of creative writing teachers in the CSUN English Department. This anthology, covering the period from 1962 to 1988, presents a literary portrait of people who live, study, and work in Southern California, an unfolding emotional panorama of their attitudes and concerns. Though the works appear in chronological order, they have been arranged to suggest certain dramatic sequences or clusters of ideas and images about our experiences during the past twenty-six years with family, friends, and lovers in the San Fernando Valley and its environs. Arranged in this fashion--with each individual work expressing a dramatic or ironic reaction to the preceding work--these poems and stories tell a larger story about how it feels to live and hurt and love in our complex urban and suburban world, about how it was then, about how it is now. If some of these works look nostalgically to other times or places, they nonetheless speak with a voice that we come to recognize as our own, a literary voice that echoes our own past and present.

The first literary magazine appeared on this campus during the spring of 1962, four years after the official opening of the campus in the fall of 1958. Dr. Wallace Graves, the faculty advisor to the magazine, told me that at the time it was college policy for the names of all official publications to reflect the school's "sun" motif: the newspaper was called The Daily Sundial , and the yearbook was called Sunburst . In order to conform to this "sun campus" policy, the new literary magazine was called Eclipse. It ran for seven issues, one each spring through 1968. From the fall of 1968 through the fall of 1970, sunny Valley State--along with much of the country--experienced racial, political, and social turmoil. There were no literary magazines during this period of intense emotional disruption when creative energies were more likely to find expression in political action. In 1971, as the situation on campus drifted back toward the status quo, two students in the English Department started Artifax, a new literary magazine constructed from the pieces of the defunct Eclipse. These editors produced four issues of Artifax (May 1971, October 1971, March 1972, and March 1973). In July of 1972 San Fernando Valley State College, also reconstructed, officially became California State University, Northridge. During this transitional period, students of the English Council, with partial support from Associated Students, produced two short-lived literary magazines, the aesthetically eclectic All Of It (Summer-Fall 1972) and A Bao A Qu (Fall 1973), named after a mythical Malayan being "sensitive to the many shades of the human soul."

These separate efforts led to the founding in 1975 of Angel's Flight , a literary magazine fully supported by Associated Students and produced and edited by students in the English Department. The new magazine, as the first issue pointed out, was named after Angel's Flight, the old downtown "streetcar that could be ridden from Hill Street up Bunker hill. The trip up was like climbing the hump of that first hill on a roller coaster: the car, sometimes smelling of axle grease, clicked and jerked to the top. Angel's Flight gave you a ride that beat the hell out of the nickel you paid for it." The literary Angel's Flight ran without interruption for eleven issues from January 1976 through the spring of 1982. The name of the magazine was then changed to Northridge Review, in part belatedly to reflect the name change from San Fernando Valley State College to California State University, Northridge and in part to reflect a greater identification with the San Fernando Valley. Northridge Review has published twelve issues without interruption from the Fall 1982 issue through the present Fall 1988 issue. I would like to thank the students of Valley State and Cal State, Northridge for having written and produced these thirty-six separate publications; without their talented contributions, this anthology would not have been possible.

My own work on this retrospective glance at those twenty-six years of student fiction and poetry has been made possible in part by a sabbatical leave grant which gave me the time to collect all the various issues and begin the selection process and in part by a modest grant from the President's Special Needs Fund which helped pay for the word-processing and computer typesetting. I am indebted to Virginia Elwood, CSUN's excellent archivist, for helping me locate a complete collection of these thirty-six magazines, thus guaranteeing the thoroughness of the current selection. I would like to give special thanks to my editorial board, all full-time teachers who graciously took time from their extremely heavy teaching schedules to help with the selection process: for help with the fiction selection, Professors Lary Gibson, Wallace Graves, and Katharine Haake; for help with the poetry selection, Professors Eloise Klein Healy, Arthur Lane, and Benjamin Saltman. I would also like to thank Professor Dorothy Barresi, Glenn Dwiggins (who also did the typesetting), Patricia Rockoff, and Jim Williamson for their help with proofreading the manuscript. My final thanks go to Michael Jacobs of RE: Graphics, without whose help this project would never have come to completion. Because funds on our campus for literary projects such as this one are minimal and seldom available, Michael Jacobs has graciously donated the entire cost of printing and binding this special anthology; may his reward be in this as well as in any other world.

Warren Wedin
California State University, Northridge
December 1988


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Warren Wedin warren.wedin@csun.edu