Blue Review Digital Issue Now Available

Monday, May 18, 2020

The 2020 issue of the Blue Review, Mercersburg Academy’s annual literary and art publication, is now available. This year’s Blue Review features some of the best art and writing created by Mercersburg students.

A digital version of the Blue Review is available online, and books will be available for purchase on campus in the fall. 

Blue Review, founded in 1901, was originally known at The Lit. Its name changed in the 1980s and shortly after, artwork was included in the annual publication. Current advisers are Kristen Pixler, arts faculty, and Michele Poacelli, English faculty and director of the Writing Center. 

Blue Review is supported through the arts department, the Writing Center, and the English department. Students are encouraged to contribute through these departments, but all submissions are welcome. This year’s staff includes Jay Howley ’21 and Ryan Bland ’21, editors-in-chief for art; Birdy McDonnell ’20 and Lian Wang ’21, editors-in-chief for literary; and Julee Rogers ’20, managing editor. 

“This spring term, with the transition into virtual learning, our work with Blue Review was also moved online,” said Wang. “The final process of putting together the book was conducted almost completely online, with our team scattered across the country and world. We’ve dedicated a lot of hours and rounds of communication, and we’re definitely proud of the final 2020 edition of Blue Review.”

Students start working on the publication in the fall when they select a theme for that year’s edition. They also start the process of filtering through submissions. The final product is released in the spring term. This year’s theme is “Cacophony.”

“Writers and artists explored the discord—auditory, visual, intellectual, or emotional—that surrounds and lives within us,” Wang said. “Their creative pieces embraced the clash of senses, the richness of human experience. Moreover, the theme of cacophony drove the design of the book, with a recurring motif of static guiding the cover and chapter pages.”

“It’s always a herculean effort to assemble Blue Review, but this year was especially remarkable. I’d call it a labor of love: passion for the book was evident in the commitment of our team,” said Poacelli. “This spring, editors transitioned seamlessly to the new online setting and devoted countless hours to reviewing submissions, designing the book, and editing it. In the end, our editors and staff produced a beautiful book the school community will be proud of. This year especially, Blue Review is testament to the creative tenacity of Mercersburg students.”  

Two awards are given each year to contributors of Blue Review for the best submissions. This year’s recipients were Jay Howley ’21, received the art award, and Birdy McDonnell ’20, received the Dr. Julius Shamansky Prize.

Columbia Scholastic Press critiques Blue Review each year. The publication is judged in three separate competitions: the Medal critique, which reviews the book based on specific criteria of a publication; the Circle awards, which looks at specific single categories, such as cover design and individual student awards; and the Crown awards, which looks at the overall quality of the publication. Last year’s publication received a gold medal in the Medal Critique and the 2018 publication received a Gold Medal Critique and a Silver Crown Award.