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‘Recess’ publishes student work in creative nonfiction

Marc Briz ’14 launched the online journal that aims to explore nonfiction through digital exhibition

Responding to a need for an “adaptable outlet” for nonfiction work on campus, Marc Briz ’14 launched the online journal Recess last semester. Inspired by his sophomore year experience in ENGL 0180: “Introduction to Creative Nonfiction,” Briz said he hopes to provide a platform for digital storytelling.

“We were reading such great pieces, and I loved sharing my own writing and getting feedback. But I felt that there wasn’t a publication that catered exclusively to this genre and showcased the work of the nonfiction program at Brown,” said Briz, who is also editor-in-chief of the site.

After discussing the idea with a few friends, Briz said he decided to create a website to explore nonfiction through digital exhibition. Students from the Rhode Island School of Design began to collaborate on the creation, and in the spring of 2012, Recess entered its planning stages.

Koji Yamamoto ’15, who is enrolled in the Brown-RISD Dual Degree program and is creative director of Recess, said the publication incorporates talent from the University’s neighbor on the hill, with RISD student Ingrid Sanchez serving as illustration editor.

“She is in illustration and in the photography department, so she is able to reach out into that area and get a lot of strong illustrators to work on pieces,” Yamamoto said.

At first, Recess got submissions through personal solicitations as well as by encouraging nonfiction professors to let their students know about the publication. In addition to the many short works they have already received, three or four long projects have been submitted to the journal as word spread of the publication, Briz said. Social media also helps the site gain followers, Briz said — its Facebook page is growing weekly.

“I don’t think anyone has a grasp on what it’s for. It’s cool because we get to mess with it and figure it out as we go,” said Sienna Zeilinger ’15, one of Recess’ senior editors. “But because we are online and only online, we can make stories what they can be, instead of what they have to be, given a certain media.”

Recess also prides itself on its dedication to collaboration with its writers, Zeilinger added. “The collaborative effort helps set Recess apart from other publications, since editors strive to help their writers edit their pieces while not being set to a strict deadline.”

“They commit themselves to a broad writing aesthetic — they want writers’ voices to come through,” Sophia Rabb ’14 wrote in an email to The Herald. She recently submitted her piece “Notes Towards an Anthropology of Hugging” to the online journal.

Most submissions have been from Brown students, while illustrations often come from RISD students. But the publication hopes to blur this distinction in the future. It also hopes to foster dialogue with alum, Briz said.

“I do think that Recess has a content reach outside of College Hill, and I hope to still be involved in Recess when I graduate,” Briz said.



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