June 22, 2022

Vancouver Island University’s literary magazine ‘Portal’ turns 30 – Vancouver Island Free Daily

Vancouver Island University’s student-designed literary magazine celebrates its 30th anniversary.

On April 30, students of VIU’s Magazine Editing Course launched the 30th annual issue of Portal. At 108 pages, it’s the biggest issue yet and includes some special features to mark the occasion.

“The magazine gets more and more ambitious with each issue,” said Joy Gugeler, who has taught the course for 10 years and serves as Portalthe editor.

She said she was “delighted” to be part of the 30th anniversary issue, adding that producing it during a pandemic was a feat.

“Particularly in the very difficult year we have had with COVID as a country, as a city, as a university and as a class, it has been much more [of] kind of a win on the fly where we were able to do it entirely through Zoom and through email and online document exchanges,” she said.

Gugeler said Portal evolved “quite considerably” over the past 30 years. It started like the Stump, one of the few publications produced by VIU’s Creative Writing Club when it was still Malaspina College. In 1991, students in the publishing class voted to change the name to Portal and it became a class-run magazine.

“It used to be a black-and-white publication that was printed on campus and only for campus,” Gugeler said.

Since Gugeler took over, Portal became a color publication now printed in Montreal and distributed across the country as a member of Magazines Canada, the national association representing Canadian magazines. Gugeler also oversaw the creation of PortalPortfolio Reading Series and National Writing Competition, Portent.

VIU’s ‘Portal’ magazine celebrates its 30th anniversary. Here are the 30 covers of the literary publication produced by the students. (Image courtesy of Chantelle Calitz)

The 30th anniversary issue includes reviews of poetry, prose, scripts, art, and books by students from VIU’s three campuses. New this year include a portfolio highlighting three writers from different cultural backgrounds, interviews with three literary magazines from across Canada on how they weathered the pandemic and where they see the future of publishing, and interviews with three VIU creative writing alumni now working in book and magazine publishing in Vancouver.

This year’s student co-editors are Kiara Strijack and Dave Flawse. Flawse said Gugeler approached him about taking on the role, and it wasn’t how he imagined it.

“I just said ‘yes’ and thought it would be fun,” he said. “And what it ended up being was a lot more work than I expected, but we still had a lot of fun times.”

Strijack said she felt “honoured” to be part of the 30th anniversary issue.

“To skim through and edit about half of the magazine was really amazing,” she said. “A lot of work, but really amazing and really rewarding to see this all fall into place.”

Gugeler said it was an effort that went beyond campus grounds.

“With our designer being in Edmonton and most of the other students being on the island – we have some in Toronto and we even had a student in the Bahamas – all trying to put together this issue which is printed in Montreal and transported by truck across the country for a week and comes to our doorstep, it’s a truly international project,” she said.

The 30th anniversary issue of Portal can be found here.

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