Berklee Lit Mag Launches

Brenda Pike
October 16, 2008

Berklee students are world-renowned for their music. But the editors of the college's new literary magazine, FUSION, want them to be known for something else, too—their words.

The brainchild of Liberal Arts Department professor Joseph Coroniti, the "magazine of literature, music, and ideas" was released online in October, featuring poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, drama, and essays from Berklee students, faculty, alumni, and visiting artists.

A launch party celebrating the magazine's release will take place October 29 at 6:00 p.m. in the Loft at 939 Boylston Street. Appropriately, the event will not only include readings from the magazine, but performances of the music discussed in some of the pieces.

"David Fiuzynski will be talking about the ideas in his piece, 'Global Microjam - Shape of Jamz to Come?,' and also playing some musical examples. Then we'll have a Tibetan folk musician performing, and we'll do a piece on Tibetan culture," says Coroniti. "We'll have, of course, fusion cuisine."

The editors envision FUSION going beyond the page (or the screen) to encompass a variety of multimedia works. Events such as the launch party, visiting artist clinics, and poetry slams will be sponsored by the Liberal Arts Department and then mined for content by the magazine—with BIRN interviews with visiting artists and videos of the events posted on the site, as well as excerpts from the works presented.

"It's in the spirit of Berklee. We're not a very staid place; we all try to do things that are innovative. So the move toward interdisciplinary and multimedia offerings makes sense given who we are as a community."

-- FUSION editor-in-chief Joseph Coroniti

The magazine's goal is to create a community of writers, and the editors want the whole community to be involved—students, faculty, alumni, visiting artists, even staff.

"A central mission of FUSION is to create a culture of writing," says Coroniti. The magazine has become a major vehicle of the college's Writing across the Curriculum program, designed to integrate writing throughout the college experience, not just in liberal arts classes.

It seems to be working. Recently, interest in poetry has increased dramatically. Last year saw the founding of a poetry slam team; this year, the introduction of a Poetry Slam and Jam class.

"I think it's a natural leap to go from lyric to poetry," says Liberal Arts Department professor and FUSION fiction editor Julie Rold. "There are several lyric writing classes, there are several poetry workshops, and they feed into each other."

A year ago, Coroniti enlisted the help of Rold and other liberal arts professors, who put out a call for interested students—and were overwhelmed by the response. More than 40 people showed up to the first meeting.

Of those 40, a core group have stuck with it and are now part of the editorial board, choosing what work makes it in the magazine.

"The whole experience is sort of like when your band gets together to make a CD," says student editor John Lippincott. "The idea of it at first is just really fun and exciting, but you don't realize until several months later that it takes a long time to get it going. I think there will be a lot of kids interested once it gets a name for itself."

For a number of Berklee students like Lippincott, writing isn't just a hobby, but a potential career.

"Liberal arts grew on me," he says. "I went into the first English writing class thinking of it as a requirement that I had to push through, but I grew to enjoy it. It's more and more of a passion. As a side job, I want to write for a local newspaper, something like that."

"Our students have a lot of creativity, not only in music, but in other areas."

-- Liberal Arts Department chair Camille Colatosti 

The website will be updated regularly as work comes in, and a print publication selected from the website will be coming out in the spring. Already the magazine has defied all expectations.

"Initially we thought it would be some sort of flyer stapled on the side," laughs Rold, "and it became this multimedia extravaganza."