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Elizabeth Cunningham and Jake Ricker, coeditors-in-chief of the Ivory Tower.

Elizabeth Cunningham and Jake Ricker, coeditors-in-chief of the new Ivory Tower literary magazine.

Ivory Tower redux

The U's famed literary magazine makes a comeback

By Martha Coventry

April 21, 2006

If you looked for The Minnesota Daily on a Monday morning in the 1950s and '60s, you'd have found in its place the Ivory Tower--an opinionated and creative undergraduate take on just about everything from politics to poetry. Garrison Keillor was the magazine's editor for a spell and Patricia Hampl, now noted author and U professor of English, wrote for the publication that was the way to start the week for students on the Twin Cities campus.

But just as the innocence and energy of the 1960s never made the leap to the 1970s, neither did the Ivory Tower. It folded at the end of the decade, with its stellar reputation still intact. Now, a new Ivory Tower is dusting off that reputation and bringing great undergraduate writing and art back to campus.

"We thought it was a shame that the U didn't have an official literary magazine any more," says coeditor-in-chief Elizabeth Cunningham, one of the students in English instructor Marge Barrett's two classes, Publications Editing and Literary Magazine Production, whose task it was to create and produce a new print venue for student work.

Instead of inventing a name for the new publication, they chose to honor the past. "The old Ivory Tower was stylish and cool," says Jake Ricker, the magazine's other editor-in-chief. (According to Hampl, Keillor saw it as a "kiddie New Yorker.") And this incarnation does what the earlier magazine did--give undergraduates a chance for their work to be seen and appreciated without having to compete with more experienced grad students, says Ricker.

Oriental Poppies
Andrew Uzendoski

...Count on your right hand
how many times you've been in love--
the lucky
will need their left hand.
Few make it to their feet,
less count at all. ...

Consider me among the grateful:
who knows that the colors
of my red sun sleeping heart
match the tone of the Oriental Poppies?
I need both hands.

--From Ivory Tower Volume 17 2006

A team of editors chose the poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art of 24 students (out of more than 250 submissions) for the 78-page pub that has its own "stylish and cool" look--glossy paper, plenty of white space to frame the text and art, and a trendy 7-by-8 1/2-inch size. Short histories of the original publication--along with cover reproductions--share space with the student work. And the new Ivory Tower took up the volume numbering where the old left off--this year's magazine is Volume 17.

Ryan Rodgers, a senior who writes fiction and takes photographs, submitted a stunning view of the Weisman Art Museum--a time-lapse photo taken at sunset from an unfamiliar angle, with the Minneapolis skyline in the distance.

"I put a lot of work into taking pictures and I'm glad [my photo] was recognized," says Rodgers. "And I'm happy they printed it in color. I like that the Ivory Tower is a totally student run magazine--they choose the work, edit it, and do the promotion."

"We wanted to continue [promoting] the strong tradition of [artistic] excellence at the U," says Ricker. With any luck, the new Ivory Tower will continue well into this new century.

The Ivory Tower's production is funded by grants from the English and journalism departments and by donations. It's free on the Twin Cities campus at Dinkytown coffee shops, the Coffman Union Bookstore, Lind Hall, and Murphy Hall. And it's also available at the Ivory Tower Web site.