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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Editors of university literary journal plan to face challenges head-on

Monique Bever
The first edition of Mikrokosmos, published in the spring of 1958, features a collection of poetry, art and prose by Wichita State students. The journal persists today and is currently edited by Clarence Albury.

Clarence Albury, who works under the name Clarence Carvell, picked up a small brown book from the corner of his desk, the very first copy of the Mikrokosmos literary journal from 1958.

“It’s really remarkable,” Albury said. “All of the issues back in those days were really small. They were very short, but I thought the writing was amazing.”

Mikrokosmos publishes poetry, art and prose from Wichita State students and alumni. Albury became involved with Mikrokosmos as soon as he came to WSU in 2021. 

After holding the position of poetry editor in 2022, he took on the editor in chief role for the 70th issue, which will be released in the spring. 

Albury had a long journey before becoming an editor at Mikrokosmos. He’s from the Bahamas, where he lived until he was 21. He was a part-time student at a local college but wanted to move faster in his education, so a friend suggested he look abroad in hopes of finding a scholarship to fund his studies. Albury applied to a university in Shanghai, China, and received a full, five-year scholarship. 

In Shanghai, he studied Chinese language and culture and found a job teaching English. Albury said the move had its challenges. 

“It look some getting used to,” he said. “Being in any new environment takes time, takes a little bit of courage. I mean, I’m 10,000-plus miles away from my country. I couldn’t just jump on a plane and then go back, so I had to figure out a way to adjust and sort of acclimate to this new environment that I was in.”

After five years, Albury returned home to the Bahamas with a new goal in mind. He told himself that if he made it through the COVID-19 pandemic, he would apply for graduate school and pursue writing.

“2021 came around; I sent in my application and got accepted into the writing program here,” he said.

Albury said there were several things that drew him to a school so far from home, including the graduate teaching assistant program, which allowed him to fund his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. Another draw was the school’s connection to some writers he looks up to. 

“One of my role models came here back in the 1970s: Dr. Maya Angelou,” Albury said. “And a queer Black poet by the name of Jericho Brown also came to Wichita State a couple of years back to do a poetry workshop.”

Albury carries his past experiences into his editing work at Mikrokosmos.

“I’ve done a lot of things in my life, and so I just approached this assignment as just another one of those opportunities that you get to do something great, to do something wonderful,” he said. “I’m just seeing this as an opportunity for me to just do something different. Do something bold; that’s what Mikrokosmos has always been about.”

Mikrokosmos has an online counterpart, mojo. The two publications share an editing team that is responsible for going through the hundreds of submissions that the publications receive each year. Albury is responsible for putting together the editing team, leading the search for the best submissions, and making decisions about the final journal as well as how to market it to readers. 

“This role is just being the visionary behind what this new issue is going to look like,” he said. “I have a whole bunch of ideas going on in my head, but obviously, I can’t put all of them into the books, but I do enjoy the process.”

Hannah Holliday, Mikrokosmos’ genre editor, said the journal provides a chance for any students, staff and alumni to get their work published. 

“This is one of the best ways to get involved and also to give recognition to all these really talented writers on campus, especially that are not in the English department,” Holliday said. “We even have engineering majors submitting poetry, and that’s really important that they get that creative outlet, and they get recognition for their amazing work.”

Albury and his team have been faced with the resounding impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on Mikrokosmos and mojo. 

“We discovered that there were past submissions, dating back to 2020, that had not been processed,” Albury said. “What it means is a lot of the people that submitted those things had no answer. They didn’t know if they were accepted or not.”

The team decided to go through this backlog of submissions and reach out and apologize to the writers and artists who never heard back.

“We just thought that we wanted to start this new issue on the right foot, in a positive light, and thankfully, that apology was well received,” Albury said. 

The pandemic also led to the cancellation of readings in local coffee shops, bars and bookstores. Albury said bringing these events back is a priority for the journal.

“We think that’s an opportunity to give the journal some exposure; it’s an opportunity for us to get the word out about what we’re doing, too,” Albury said. “We think we need to because the journal has been around for so long; we think more people should know about it.”

Over the summer, Albury and his team were hit with yet another familiar challenge.

“We had received some funding, then it was cut, as was other groups’,” Albury said. “And so I had to go before SGA and give a little speech and tell them, ‘Hey, in order for us to do the work that we do, we need funding to keep ourselves afloat.’”

Albury said he doesn’t see this threat to funding going away, but his goal for the journal is to stay ahead of the issue and raise some of the required money on their own.

“One of my main goals, as this year’s editor in chief, is to make sure that the magazine is profitable, and that means getting all of these issues that are just here on the shelves, to get them in a store, get them sold,” he said, gesturing to the rows of Mikrokosmos volumes on the shelf beside him. 

He views the funding cuts as a symptom of a wider problem: a disregard for the value of literature. He wants Mikrokosmos and mojo to have a role in fighting back against this.

“All across the country, books are being banned, and libraries are closing,” Albury said. “We see this as an opportunity to fight even harder because, at any moment, we could face that same fate.”

Albury said he wants to lessen the financial stress for future editors and members of the journal as well. 

“I don’t want them to face the same hurdles that we’ve had to face,” he said. “We’ll be reaching out to the alumni to see if they’d want to donate money. We’ll be hosting fundraisers to try to get more funding into our accounts.”

Albury has high hopes for Mikrokosmos while he’s editor in chief, as well as after he’s left the journal.

“I have an opportunity here to give it more exposure, to let more people … know about the great work that we are doing here at Mikrokosmos,” he said. “I just hope that those that come after me have that same passion and that same zeal about the written word.”

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About the Contributors
Ainsley Smyth
Ainsley Smyth, Reporter
Ainsley Smyth is a second-year reporter for The Sunflower. Smyth is a sophomore communications major with an emphasis in journalism and media productions. Her dream job is to travel back in time 30 years and then be a reporter for Rolling Stone. Smyth uses she/her pronouns.
Monique Bever
Monique Bever, Reporter
Monique Bever is a first-year reporter and photographer. She is a freshman majoring in philosophy. Monique has lived in Wichita for most of her life. She loves film, fashion, and her cat.

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