Editor-in-Chief of the Blue Mesa Review Nora Hickey said that in the publication’s 29 years, its annual issue never went without a print edition, until now.
Blue Mesa Review is an annual graduate-student publication that showcases student creative writing work in association with UNM’s English department. Writers and faculty members Patricia Clark Smith, Gene* Frumkin and author of “Bless Me, Ultima,” Rudolfo Anaya began the magazine in 1983. Due to budget cuts to this year’s magazine, it may go unpublished.
“I’m not sure at what point it happened, but we received funding from 2010 to 2011, at $6,000 … but by the next year, we did not receive any funding,” Hickey said.
Blue Mesa Review wasn’t the first publication to encounter budget setbacks — earlier this year, the Honors College publication “Scribendi” had $1,000 cut from its budget.** Hickey said what makes Blue Mesa Review’s case different is that the organization was never notified as to why its budget was cut. She said she reached out to the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences last semester, but never received a response.
English Department Chair Gail Houston said the publication’s budget decrease was due to the department’s own $86,000 budget cut in 2009. Houston said the department was able to keep funding for the publication until July 2011, when the new dean of Arts and Sciences, Mark Peceny, decided to focus more on increasing the number of faculty members and ensuring that faculty members are paid appropriately.
Houston said future funding of the publication is currently pending on whether the department ever makes up for the money lost in 2009.
“I hope the Legislature brings in more money and sees how important it is to support our students and faculty, and resources do matter, they do make a difference,” she said. “I just hope we can get back to a time where there will be more resources so we can be more supportive.”
Regardless of whether the University provides the publication with funding, Hickey said she will continue to make sure Blue Mesa Review gets published — even if it is online.
“After talking to our own head of the department, we sort of decided that it seemed like we could keep trying or we could focus our energies on reading submissions and vamping our presence, both on our blog and through Facebook, trying to get into contact with authors for interviews,” Hickey said. “As graduate students, it didn’t seem clear to us that we’d get funding, but I suppose the squeaky wheel gets the oil, right? Just keep trying.”
Hickey said this year’s magazine will be published exclusively online through the group’s blog. She said that while the publication was pushed online, the magazine has yet to establish a dedicated subscription fan base, so an online publication could be easier to advertise and access through the blog and Facebook page.
“The goal of Blue Mesa Review is to showcase writing that we find really interesting, that grabs our attention, makes us think about the human experience in a different way, that is aesthetically trying to do something,” she said. “And I think that our online issue will be more successful in showcasing those voices.”
Hickey said that because the publication rotates its editorial board and changes its goal every year, this might be the only year the publication runs exclusively online. She said as long as graduate students continue to want to work at the publication, Blue Mesa Review will continue to showcase writers from the southwest.
“We want to own that identity and showcase artwork and writers, and let readers know that it’s not just the two coasts where writing trends are happening,” she said. “They’re happening all over the country and this is one of the places it’s happening.”
Visit the Blue Mesa Review’s blog at bluemesalit.wordpress.com.
*Correction: The original article read “Jane.”
**Clarification: Although both Scribendi and Blue Mesa Review faced budget cuts, Scribendi’s budget cut came from ASUNM, while the English department cut Blue Mesa Review’s budget.