The Minor Bird marks 90 years with special anniversary issue, launch party

By Iris Marzolf

In April, The Minor Bird — Chatham University’s student-run literary magazine — is publishing its 90th anniversary edition. It’s a platform where undergraduate artists and writers can share their own work. Anyone, regardless of their field of study, can submit fiction, creative-nonfiction, poetry, critical essays, screen-writing manuscripts and art.

Since 1929, when the first issue was published, The Minor Bird has been a home for the work of first-time and growing writers. Its name was inspired by Robert Frost’s poem,“A Minor Bird.” After a visit to Chatham, then called the Pennsylvania College for Women, he was inspired to write it.

In 1939, The Minor Bird merged with Arrow, which was the student newspaper at the time, to create Dart, a medium split between journalism and creative work. In the 1950s, The Minor Bird separated from the newspaper and has remained its own independent medium ever since.

The Minor Bird has overcome a lot to make it this far; It’s underwent transformations and changed formats — all the while remaining an outlet for voices to be heard.

This year’s issue is significant not only because it’s the magazine’s 90th anniversary, but also because it includes new work that’s not been published before in The Minor Bird from Chatham alumni who graduated in the 1960s. Some of them are even coming from Florida to attend the launch party. Alumni work underwent the same processing procedures as student work, and it will be featured in the magazine alongside the work of current students.

“This year, we have really stressed that The Minor Bird is a place for beginnings and a place to showcase the development of our students,” says Elana Ragan ’19, editor-in-chief of The Minor Bird for the 2018–19 school year. “By pairing [student work] alongside alumni submissions, our journal comes to celebrate the inseparability and importance of history, the rich ties that The Minor Bird has formed with alumni this year and the intertextuality of this journal and those proceeding it.”

The launch party for the new issue is slated to take place in the Mellon Board room at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 14. Following an opening ceremony, there will be a tribute for Simon Matela, a creative writing student who passed away in January after a brief illness. There will be a moment of silence, a reading to commemorate his work that was published in the journal, and a collection jar to raise money for the American Diabetes Association.

The party also will feature a guest speaker: Brittany Hailer, a graduate of Chatham’s MFA program. She’s taught creative writing classes at the Allegheny County Jail and the Sojourner House, a local residential drug and treatment facility for women and their children, as part of Chatham’s Words Without Walls program. She’s won several awards for her creative work. Her memoir and poetry collection called “Animal You’ll Surely Become” was published by Tolsun Books in 2018. Hailer will talk about what it means to be an emerging writer and the publishing process, as well as answer related questions.

Students and alumni whose work has been published in the latest issue will have the chance to read some of it, and members of next year’s Minor Bird executive board will be announced. There will be cake, punch, finger foods and other various snacks, along with Minor Bird stickers that were designed for the journal.

“Contributors should definitely come to read their work,” says Dr. Carrie Tippen, a writing, literary and cultural studies assistant professor of English. “It’s a welcoming, inclusive space with lots of encouragement.”

Those who attend the party can pick up free copies of the new journal. After the event, free copies will be available in Lindsey House, Jennie King Mellon Library and Cafe Rachel for a limited time. Free digital copies can be downloaded from The Minor Bird’s website in a PDF format at

“People should attend the launch party to celebrate all the hard work and community that we’ve put into this year’s journal,” says Ragan. “We’ve had a great group working together this year to make such a high-quality, expansive product. We want to share this with the Chatham community.”

Those who are interested in applying for an executive board member position can email [email protected] by April 1. To keep up with The Minor Bird on social media, follow @minorbird_chatham on Instagram, @ChathamMinorBird on Facebook and @bird_minor on Twitter.