For 18th year, TU’s ‘Grub Street’ earns national accolades

By Rebecca Kirkman on April 25, 2021

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association honors literary magazine, work by 10 contributors

Grub Street magazines stacked up
The award-winning cover design of Towson University literary magazine “Grub Street.” (Photo courtesy of William Hartman ’20)

TU literary and arts magazine “Grub Street” has earned its 18th consecutive award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) for volume 69, which was produced remotely during the pandemic.

An international student press association created in 1925 and operated by Columbia University, the CSPA’s annual competitions honor excellence in student publishing.

The magazine’s 2021 recognition includes a Gold Crown Award for the publication overall and 11 individual Gold Circle Awards for student work within the publication.

“Grub Street” is one of two Gold Crown Award winners in the print literary magazine category. It is one of 16 collegiate publications to earn gold recognition out of 852 from across the country. Gold Crown Award entries are judged on their excellence in design, photography, concept, coverage and writing.

“Grub Street” volume 69 was released in spring 2020. Nine TU students and one Dulaney High School student were recognized for their contributions to the publication in categories ranging from poetry and experimental fiction to illustration and design.

Taryn headshot
Taryn Painter ’22

Begun in 1952, “Grub Street” is run by undergraduate students enrolled in “Editing the Literary Magazine,” taught by English assistant professor Jeannie Vanasco. It is funded by the Office of the Provost with additional support from the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of English.

“Anyone can submit to ‘Grub Street.’ For volume 69, the staff combed through more than a thousand poems, essays, stories and artworks,” Vanasco says. “All identifying information from the submissions had been removed. It just so happened that some of the best work was by TU students, which didn’t surprise me. Every semester, I’m impressed by how talented and creative our students are.”

Taryn Painter ’22, an Honors College student majoring in history and political science with a minor in human rights and history, was awarded second place in the traditional fiction category for “A Day on Race Street.”

“The story that I published in ‘Grub Street’ was my first publication and the first time I decided to share my writings publicly,” says Painter, who wrote the piece for an Honors College writing course with lecturer Benjamin Warner.

“Having a literary magazine on campus is so important because it encourages creativity from all departments across campus,” she adds. “Even people like me, who have little overlap with the English or arts departments, can become published writers. ‘Grub Street’ offered me a platform. My story is based on my emotions navigating identity and belonging, and it felt great knowing that there was an outlet for me to share my life experiences.”

William headshot
William Hartman ’20

Working with classmates to publish volume 69 remotely gave art + design major William Hartman ’20 experience he has brought with him into his professional career as a designer and illustrator.

“This was my first time seriously diving into design for publication,” says Hartman, who was awarded first place in the cover design category with Deandra Lee, whose illustration “Loop” graced the issue’s cover.

“From its conception to printing, I have grown and learned so much with the craft. To this day it is the largest project I have worked on, and it challenged me and pushed my limits at times. Having a lot of creative control made it a fun time, and I will always look back on it as such a positive experience.”

Hartman says “Grub Street” offers TU students a safe, creative outlet and brings the community together through the arts. 

“I’m sure anyone who picks up the magazine will be able to find a poem, story, photograph or painting that they love or identify with,” he says. “That alone makes it special and very much worthwhile.”

“Grub Street” Gold Circle Award Winners

  • Briseyda Barrientos-Ariza, “Storms in Ice Cages,” third place, free-form poetry
  • Liza Dennis, second place, portfolio illustration
  • Deandra Lee and William Hartman, “Loop,” first place, cover design
  • Deandra Lee, “Loop,” honorable mention, single illustration (computer generated)
  • Taryn Painter, “A Day on Race Street,” second place, traditional fiction
  • Angela Qian of Dulaney High School, “Tabletops,” second place, free-form poetry
  • Yehudis Rabinowitz, “Race,” third place, experimental fiction and third place, alternative story form
  • Bridget Roddy, “Hypebae,” first place, single illustration (computer generated)
  • Makenzie Sisson, “List of Symptoms of Something I Cannot Name that I Have Taped to My Fridge,” first place, alternative story form
  • Ashley Wagner, “Second Fiddle,” first place, free-form poetry