UNT’s Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism — which presents the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Writers Conference (opening this year on July 18) — now has a glossy annual journal, called Mayborn: Where Real Stories Come Alive. The first issue, Summer 2008, has just been released and put up online. (FYI: The school is “the Mayborn,” but the magazine is, simply, Mayborn. This is for any journalists or copy editors out there.)
The inaugural issue is akin to a print version of the Literary Conference, or perhaps an advertisement for it: There’s a Q&A with author N. Scott Momaday, the keynote speaker for this year’s conference, a feature by Bob Shacochis (and a profile of him), author of Domesticity, who is also coming this year, plus a profile of Bill Marvel, the former features writer for The Dallas Morning News, who has been a regular at the Mayborn (and a former co-worker of mine) — and so on.
Actually, it’s more accurate to say the magazine generally resembles the conference in the ways the articles follow the many different tributaries of long-form narrative journalism that conference honcho George Getschow often features in panels and speakers: adventure journalism, for instance (Nick Heil’s story about writing Dark Summit, his book on Everest climbers), biography (Andrew Rogers on Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan), memoir (journalist Ken Wells on his colorful, yarn-spinning, bayou background) or professional advice (Susannah Charleson on how her experiences as a pilot and a search-and-rescue responder inform her writing, Dallas literary agent James Donovan on why most manuscripts never get published, and deservedly so).
Editor-in-chief Cathy Booth Thomas (a self-described Time magazine refugee) seems to be pitching Mayborn to both would-be narrative journalists (students, beginning writers) and to the wider market of literary-savvy readers who’d recognize a name like Momaday. And in fact, the annual is a half-professional, half-student production. My only suggestion for improvement: The general layout and design tend to look a little dowdy — partly that’s in comparison to the writing, which is often rich, authoritative, polished. Well worth picking up to take a look.