The Detour project

DetourBy Natasha Rocci

Are you aware of Fitchburg State’s online magazine? Detour is a new project taken on by Dr. Elise Takehana that began this spring semester by her Online Magazine class. While she is the orchestrator behind the project, the editorial decisions ultimately come down to the students involved.

Students sift through submissions received via email and make the final call on whether it should be published or not. Detour has two main areas of focus: voices that are not often heard and topics that are under represented.

“We meet during class, and the professor passes the stories around. We give them a grade; A, B, or C based on how we like it. If we think it’s a fantastic piece of literature, we give it an A. If we hate it, we give it a C.” Sarah Huff, a student in the class and an enthusiastic member of Detour describes the process of sorting submissions. “It has to be well written.

If all it has going for it is how shocking it is, it’s not going to fit. Students of Fitchburg State University submit all of the stories for Detour. Dr. Takehana cuts out the name before handing us the stories, so there’s no bias for or against someone.”

In addition to publishing the written story, Detour has a unique take on what can be called storytelling. “What the students and I really want to do is push the boundaries of storytelling. Sometimes we get so stuck in our silos that we have a hard time seeing things differently,” Takehana explains. “When we think of storytelling we tend to think of traditional written word. But storytelling can take on several different forms across different kinds of media.”

The magazine explicates this by hosting a venue for FSU students to showcase their work: art, music, poetry, letters, videos and more. Underground artists of all kinds can now have a space of their own, which they can submit to in the hopes of sharing their work and passion.

Detour hosts an advice column, as well as a column focusing on interviews with strangers. “The students came up with this idea,” Takehana explained, “to interview random people and hear their story. Everyone has a story to tell, and they want to focus on those who are not as “important” as others may be.”

The editorial staff also hopes to host more themed events that show the flexibility of storytelling and how it can be a multimedia experience. One idea that have been bounced around is an event focusing around tattoos and the stories behind them.

A spoken word event where people can share the stories behind their tattoos is unconventional and unique storytelling, which makes Detour so appealing. Here, there is a space for students to explore how they can manipulate media to share their ideas and work.

One of the benefits of becoming a part of such an online magazine is the first-hand experience with the different components that make up broad field like writing and storytelling. “Writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum, I think it’s important for students to think about how it is designed, marketed, coded and so on. Being broadly educated in the field makes for desirability in the job market.”

When asked about the future of Detour and the direction Dr. Takehana would like to see it go, she smiled. “It may be my selfish endeavor, but I’d love to see some community produced work in Detour eventually. I think we’d need more momentum than what we have, but expanding beyond campus to the local community would be wonderful.”

Detour can be found at detourezine.wordpress.com, and one of John Krasner’s classes is currently working on an independent website for the magazine. The magazine recently opened a Twitter account as well under the handle @detour_magazine so make sure to keep an eye out for further updates there as well.

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