New Highlands Literary Journal Gains National Recognition

Las Vegas, NM – A new literary journal from Highlands University called New Mexico Review is gaining national recognition and was featured recently on a Boston radio station.

The segment, “Meet Me in New Mexico,” aired on Internet-based Boston Free Radio on poet Georgia Bellas’ show that focuses on the literary arts.

“There is beautiful work of poetry, fiction, essays and photography in this inaugural issue of New Mexico Review, and my listeners were blown away by the pieces I read,” Bellas said. “I found the work to be powerful and haunting. I was drawn to the universal themes of melancholy and struggle, and how people persevere to connect with each other.”

Bellas said New Mexico Review adds an important new voice to the literary community.

“The name of the journal points the readers to New Mexico’s landscapes and spaces and yet takes them on a journey that goes beyond one specific place,” Bellas said.

Jill Talbot, visiting professor of creative nonfiction, is the faculty adviser for New Mexico Review, and Caitlin Bittner, an English creative writing graduate student, is the editor.

“Jill Talbot is revered in the literary community for her exceptional writing and editing. Her work in New Mexico Review shows her commitment to helping her students flourish as editors and writers,” Bellas said.

Talbot said: “We wanted the voices in this journal to reflect the New Mexico landscape with a raw and gritty tone. We also wanted to celebrate this region and bring attention to its beauty.”

Talbot said that gaining a national reputation through a literary journal not only invites interest from potential English graduate students, but also for the university as a whole.

Talbot, who has edited several literary journals, laid the groundwork during the fall 2014 semester for the New Mexico Review along with Bittner and Mike Kubista, another Highlands English graduate student.

Talbot said an online format was chosen because it reaches more readers, is cost effective, and can be promoted via social media. The link for the journal is www.nmreview.nmhu.edu/issue-1/

“You can’t have a successful literary journal without a strong social media presence,” Talbot said. “Because of our promotion through Facebook and Twitter, New Mexico Review has joined a community of some of the country’s leading literary journals, including ones from much larger universities.”

Talbot and Bittner posted calls for submission on Facebook and Twitter.

“The writers from this journal range from coast to coast and represent some of the most accomplished voices in the literary landscape,” Talbot said. “Their previous publications include prestigious journals and anthologies such as Best American Essays, Sonora Review, North American Review, and Passages North, and we also published work from emerging writers.

Talbot said Corie Weaver in the university’s Foundation Office did a fantastic job creating the layout for the journal.

“Caitlin took Corie’s work and created the inaugural issue using WordPress software. Caitlin is one of our most talented English graduate students and is an astounding, reliable and professional editor,” Talbot said.

Bittner, 23, said building the new journal from the ground up was exhilarating.

“We were looking for an edgier type of writing that highlights the grittier side of life,” Bittner said. “In reviewing the many submissions, I learned so much about making the voice of the journal cohesive by having the pieces connect with each other in some way.”

Bittner said Talbot is a wonderful mentor.

“Dr. Talbot is phenomenal because she’s a powerhouse of intellectual energy and very dedicated to her students. She knows the literary world so well and shared this knowledge with me,” Bittner said.

Bittner will continue as editor for New Mexico Review fall semester. Joining her will be Kelly Lucero, another English graduate student. Lucero completed her B.A. in English from Highlands in May.