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WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Homework for the holidays? As co-editors of the blue moon, seniors Calandra Childers and Annie Marshall hope students spend part of the semester break prepping and polishing submissions for the next edition of Whitman's art & literary magazine.

Now in its 17th year, the blue moon accepts poetry, prose and art from Whitman faculty, staff and alumni, as well as students. But once students return to campus for classes on Tuesday, Jan. 20, relatively little time will remain before the Feb. 2 deadline for submissions.

"Many students work on submissions during the semester break," Childers says. "They don't get material to us until the actual deadline, but that doesn't mean they are waiting until the last day to work on it. They know that isn't the way to get published. The quality of the magazine is too high for people to throw something together at the last moment."

Individuals can submit as many as four poems, three pieces of prose (maximum of 10 pages each), and five pieces of art. More than 600 submissions were received a year ago. Childers and Marshall, heading a magazine staff of 19 students, expect at least that many again this year.

Poetry and prose can be submitted at any time via email (bluemoon@whitman.edu). Submissions can also be left in the blue moon lockbox near the front desk of Penrose Library or dropped into campus mail in care of the blue moon.

Art submissions, including photographs, paintings, prints and 3-dimensional art, often require more careful handling. Artists can contact any blue moon staff member to arrange for artworks to change hands. A listing of editors and email addresses are available on the www.whitman.edu/bluemoon website.

Artworks, along with all submissions, are kept for safe keeping in the blue moon office on the top floor of Reid Campus Center.

Artists with 3-dimensional art must provide a photographic print of the work as they want it to appear in the magazine. In the case of 2-dimensional art (paintings, prints, etc.), the staff works with a professional photographer to capture images of works chosen for publication.

Magazine staff will begin sifting through submissions soon after the Feb. 2 deadline passes. The first step, though, is to cover all names to ensure that judging takes place as anonymously as possible.

"The anonymous part is very important to us," Childers says. "Editors from one genre will cover the names on submissions from another genre. That way, the editors of each genre won't see their submissions until the names are covered."

The entire blue moon staff heads to the Johnston Wilderness Campus in late February to make its selections. "We split into the genre groups and discuss every piece," Marshall says. "It turns into a long night of judging."

Staff members gather again during the first week of Spring Break to do the magazine layout. The annual blue moon release party is set for early May at the Writing House.

"The release party has evolved into a fun event," Childers says. "We normally have a few bands from campus play. There's entertainment, along with food and drink, and then we hand out the new copies at midnight."

The blue moon group receives $12,000 in funding support from the Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC) and rounds out its budget by selling subscriptions to parents and alumni. Contributions are also solicited from campus departments and local businesses.

"We normally print about 2,500 copies," Childers says. "We give a copy to each student and to everyone who has a piece in the magazine. Copies also go to people who bought subscriptions and made contributions."

Subscriptions are $12 per year and are available by accessing the blue moon website.

In an effort to enlist more support from the local business community, magazine staffers are soliciting contributions this year from all 39 of the wineries in the Walla Walla Valley.

"One improvement we hope to make this year is to spread the color artwork more evenly throughout the magazine," Childers says. "To do that, we need to raise more money. It's less expensive to bunch the color printing together in just a few sections."

Childers and Marshall also plan to renew blue moon's membership in the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA), which provides annual contests and judging for collegiate magazines and newspapers.

The blue moon skipped the contest the past two years, in part because of the fees involved. The magazine earned "gold medalist" honors in 1999 and then added a silver medal in 2000.

One of the great benefits of the contest, Childers notes, is that it provides a detailed critique. "Annie and I think it would be very helpful to have that critique on hand for the editors next year."