Putting Words Together
As former Humanities faculty member Martin Smith can best recall, it was sometime in the early '70s or late '60s that he first approached his department chair, Dorothy Wolfberg, with the idea of initiating a creative writing course at SVA. The goal would be to give students an additional avenue of expression apart from their major field of interest. Smith also proposed that a literary magazine be published in conjunction with the course; students' writings would be critiqued by the instructor and the class and the best would be published in the magazine. Wolfberg liked the idea and submitted the course/magazine proposal to the College's founder, Silas H. Rhodes, who gave the project his approval as well as a small budget. Thus Words was born. "As for the name," Smith says, "Words always appealed to me because it was short, sweet and to the point."
Smith was also teaching a Humanities Department composition class and he encouraged those students to submit work for the magazine as well. Then students in other courses also began to try to get into the magazine and Words quickly grew. At first it came out just once a year, but in the early 1980s it began to appear more often—usually two times each year.
When Smith left SVA several years later to pursue a screenwriting career, Wolfberg approached another member of her faculty, Louis Phillips, to take over the role of editor. "Because I had edited a few literary publications, had some writing experience and learned that the job came with a small office space, I signed on," says Phillips. Now some 30 years on, Phillips is still at the magazine's helm and—with the support of President David Rhodes, Humanities and Sciences co-chairs Maryhelen Hendricks and Robert Milgrom and the assistance of the Visual Arts Press—the 75th issue will be released this month. Phillips says: "I hope that Words brings pleasure to the SVA students who see their work published and to its readers who get to see the wonderful array of talents that SVA students possess."