Written by one of the students in the Editing and Publishing Practicum, Meghan Scanlan, this article talks about the class that brought ‘Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy’ to life. THANK YOU, MEGHAN!
Unique publishing opportunity for UWindsor
By Meghan Scanlan
March 29, 2011
The University of Windsor has an abundance of unique and exciting programs for its students that are designed to provide hands-on learning experiences. These programs are valuable and necessary for students to gain experience and capture a glimpse into the world of their future careers.
One such program is the Editing and Publishing Practicum offered through the English Department and taught by Marty Gervais.
The program offers students hands-on learning experiences in the unpredictable world of editing and publishing. Students enrolled in the program are expected to act as intern employees of Gervais’ publishing company Black Moss Press. They are given the immense and daunting responsibility of editing and publishing one of Black Moss Press’ untouched manuscripts.
Throughout the two-part program, students act as a cooperative team in a work oriented environment designed to place the success or failure of the finished product in the hands of its students.
The birth of Gervais’ Editing and Publishing Practicum came in two phases. The editing portion was created when Wyman Herendeen headed the English Department.
Herendeen and Gervais, who was then teaching a first-year creative writing course, wanted to explore the opportunities and experiences that could be given to students. The idea that came up was that students could edit books for Gervais’ company Black Moss Press in an Editing Practicum.
The publishing section of the course came later when Karl Jirgens became head of the department.
“He thought it would be perfect to follow up the editing side,” explained Gervais. Now the two programs are fused and offered to students as a chance to live a career in editing and publishing.
This program is the only one of its kind in Canada where students edit and publish a book with a legitimate Canadian publishing company. Gervais explains that there are others like the program in Canada that work around practical exercises and with ex-publishing companies and editors, but those programs do not finish with a professional, tangible final product.
“When I look back at all the mistakes I have made in publishing, I wish there had been something available like this,” Gervais said of his learn on the fly entrance into publishing 40 years ago. He has now given that “something” to UWindsor students.
“The idea of having a class where I’d be working on something that at the end of the semester would be recognized and celebrated seemed so rewarding to me, and it definitely is,” said Kim Kovosi a student in this year’s Publishing and Editing Practicum.
The program is exciting and stressful, but worth it, explains Kovosi who was thrilled to tell her family, coworkers, and friends about the opportunity which she had been given. The course teaches students in a multitude of ways many lessons that extend beyond publishing and editing.
Kovosi says that the course has taught her to “speak up if I have something to say” because it’s your own fault if you let decisions pass by that you have not agreed with.
“I am much more confident coming out of this class,” said Kovosi, affirming Gervais’ goal of giving students an opportunity to grow in and out of the world of publishing and editing.
The final product from Gervais’ class, or “editorial team” as he calls them, can be seen at the launch of their two books, Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy by Vanessa Shields and Candy Cigarettes by Roger Bell on April 7 at 7 p.m. at The Room, located at 255 Ouellette Ave.