Sunset Press is perhaps the most ambitious press on campus. This fall, the student publication not only continues its usual activities — recently announcing the 2022-2023 featured writers and hosting open-mic events – he also launched Satellite, an art magazine dedicated to publishing works by visual artists. This new direction is in line with the publication’s mission, which Press Editor Edward Moreta ’23 described in an email to college student“We want Sunset to be an organization that fosters community within Sunset itself but also externally in the wider Kenyon community, particularly the community of writers, artists and creators.”
Sunset Press is one of many student-run publications at Kenyon, but unlike the others, Sunset goes through the formal process of publishing student work and focuses on long-form content, like poetry collections or short stories. Each academic year, Sunset Press selects several writers to feature and surrounds each writer with a studio team that assists in the editing and publishing process. According to Moreta, this year Sunset Press broke its record for the number of writers featured: “For the first time ever, we’re publishing four books, a goal we’ve had for a few years now. We’re excited to set this precedent for future editorial teams at Sunset, especially because our writer submissions tripled in the last submission cycle and we believe those numbers will only increase over time. He added that Sunset Press’s staff has also grown significantly this year. “We have 59 students in our team this year. In part, our staff is double that of years past because we’ve added one more book, and we also have the biggest art team we’ve ever had and that’s something we find particularly exciting,” did he declare.
Last Friday, Sunset Press introduced the 2022-2023 writers during an open mic at the Horn Gallery. Students crowded into the upper horn, most sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the reader, and after each featured writer was introduced, the students expressed their enthusiasm and applause. The barn door was open due to the autumn heatwave and the atmosphere was warm and collaborative.
The first featured writer of 2022-2023 announced was poet Bea Bolongaita ’25. Bolongaita’s poetry addressed themes of Filipino identity, colonization, and religion. She reflected on the precarious identity of being an Asian American in a country where only recently her ancestors were exhibited in zoos. In a poem, she notes with regret that her name, Bea, is a reference to the Beatitudes of the religion of the colonizers. Bolongaita wrote in an email to college student why she chose to publish through Sunset Press. “Last year I worked as a press editor for my friend [Stephanie Chang’s ’25] chapbook WITHOUT SAINTS. It was such a rewarding and rewarding experience. I became very close to the editorial team (we were nine in total) and it was the best literary community I have ever been in,” she wrote. “I have so much love and respect for everyone on the staff at Sunset. There is no other press I would have trusted with my first book of chapters.
Phoebe Houser ’24 was the next featured writer; she read a recent short story she wrote. In an email to college student, Houser explained his writing process with Sunset Press. “The actual writing process is very boring, but I’ve had a lot of fun doing workshops so far this semester! I usually share a text with my workshop group a few days in advance, and then we go about an hour a week discussing how to make improvements or bring out certain themes better,” she said. Houser also added how the workshops helped her in the writing process: “ It’s very helpful to be able to get such comprehensive feedback, and I really appreciate being able to get so many other points of view on what I write.
After Houser, Aaliyah Daniels ’23 read excerpts from her collection of slam poetry. Daniels had deep control over the audience; she recited her poetry with passion, and her verses were so striking that they elicited an emotional response from the audience. Her poetry dealt with issues of systemic racism in America, a poem addressing the struggles faced by “little black girls”, noting in particular the high rate of missing black women. In other poems, she referenced Christianity, sometimes directly asking God to take note of the injustice people of color face today. Daniels described his written response in an email to college student. “It always starts at the end or just a sentence in the middle but never at the beginning and I grow from there. I often write a poem in less than two hours, go away and edit it. I know when a poem is good when the rhythm of the words really rocks me and I move my head like I do with music,” she wrote. Daniels was New York City’s Young Poet Laureate.
The last featured writer of 2022-2023 to read was Alex Aureden ’25; they read a creative piece of non-fiction centered on a meaningful friendship they had in high school. During the reading, several audience members participated in the recitation, performing the different voices in the play. “I chose to publish through Sunset Press because of the welcome from the community, people already involved encouraged me to apply despite my nerves. It’s a really warm environment,” they said.
Following the 2022-2023 Writers’ Readings, Sunset Press has opened the mic to anyone interested in reading their work. The atmosphere of the open-mic readings was relaxed and encouraging; the audience listened intently and applauded enthusiastically as each reading was read. Among others, Chang, a 2021-2022 featured writer and author of WITHOUT SAINTS, read a recent poem of hers. Overall, the event demonstrated how essential collaboration is to the Sunset Press community.
Beyond the increase in the number of featured writers for 2022-2023, the launch of Satellite suggests how committed Sunset Press is to the creative community here on the Kenyon campus. While some may be surprised at the new direction with the launch of Satellite, considering Sunset Press’s origins as a laid-back poetry workshop among friends, the art magazine has for some time been one of the publication’s ambitions. Moreta explained that Sunset Press originally planned Satellite to be a digital space during COVID, but the project never came to fruition. He went on to add that Satellite has transformed since the start of its pandemic. “This version of Satellite is different from what was conceived by the early executives of Sunset, but it stays true to the original core vision: to expand Sunset’s reach through a new platform,” he said. In keeping with Sunset Press’s desire to connect with Kenyon’s broader creative community, the goal of Satellite is to make student work accessible in a tangible format. The inaugural issue of Satellite will focus on textures, though Sunset Press explained that this is an open-ended prompt, meant to allow artists to interpret it differently. While bids for Satellite are currently closed, students are encouraged to get involved by attending Sunset Press events. With four featured writers and the launch of SatelliteSunset Press will continue to reach out to and foster the creative community here on campus.