‘Luna Negra’ celebrates 50 years

Allison Remcheck

The poets “came out at night” Thursday at the Kent Masonic Temple to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Luna Negra, Kent State’s literary magazine, before its release yesterday.

Luna Negra awarded three $1,000 prizes in the poetry, short fiction and photography categories.

Donations toward the prizes were made by the Honors College, Undergraduate Studies, Communication Studies, the English department, Provost Paul Gaston and Jeff Fruit, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Andrew Hampp, senior magazine journalism major, Daily Kent Stater campus editor and editor of Luna Negra, said he wanted to do something special to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the magazine.

“I decided that we should do a big, year-long double issue,” he said. “I wanted to go all out.”

The contest was open to Kent State students and the public, and Luna Negra placed an ad in Poets and Writers Magazine.

Luna Negra started as the Kent Quarterly in 1956. In the 1970s it became the Human Issue, and after that, the New Kent Quarterly.

In 1993, “after the editor decided it was neither new nor quarterly,” Hampp said the magazine became Luna Negra, or “black moon,” in Spanish. To play off of the title, this year Luna Negra’s tagline is “The Poets Come Out at Night.”

Jeff Fruit, who donated $2,000 through the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the school has always been supportive of Luna Negra because of the “unique niche” it fills.

“For a literary-type magazine to be around for that long, it’s quite an accomplishment,” Fruit said. “It’s a special occasion and something too when you get a chance to get national attention.”

Karen Kastner, assistant professor of journalism and adviser for Luna Negra, has worked on the magazine since August 2004.

“We really worked hard on the magazine for the 50th anniversary,” Kastner said. “We put our hearts and souls into it. I am very pleased, and I think it’s very exciting to look at.”

Chuck Bluman, academic laboratory coordinator and photography judge, said it was hard to decide which photo was worthy of first prize when considering the top three photographs. However, he chose senior interior design major April Carter’s “Chicago ’05” because of a small American flag visible in the picture.

“There was this little slice of patriotism,” Bluman said.

Katharyn Howd Machan, associate professor of writing at Ithaca College in New York, won the poetry prize for “Gingerbread.” She found out about the contest through an ad the editors placed in Poets and Writers Magazine.

Machan said she draws a lot of her inspiration from her own experiences, and “Gingerbread” draws on her own experiences as an incest survivor.

She also is an established poet, has published 24 collections and has written more 5,000 poems.

“It’s part of who I am,” she said. “It’s how I function to keep myself balanced.”

Nikki Lentz, sophomore English major, won first prize in the short fiction category for her piece “Saturday as Usual.”

Hampp said he is glad to finally see the magazine in print.

“It’s so beautiful,” he said. “It’s been an honor to chronicle the last 50 years, and I hope people use this as a reference to chronicle the next 50 years as well.”

Contact science reporter Allison Remcheck at [email protected]