With The University of Sussex’s popular online magazine, The Stanza, rebranding this year under the new name Offshoot, they have many new plans in the works. I had the chance to speak with  co-editor Georgina to learn more about what Offshoot are planning across the next academic year and how you can get involved. 

Where did the initial inspiration come from to start The Stanza, now Offshoot, and how did this come about?

As you mention, Offshoot began as The Stanza in 2017 and was founded by two, now graduate students, Katie Haines and Dan Bennett.

When Callum, our other co-editor, and I first met Katie, she shared with us her and Dan’s feeling that there wasn’t a suitable platform for students to share their creative work at the university. 

By founding The Stanza, they hoped to create a space that they could nurture and duly acknowledge the creative work that had not yet been seen in its fullest form.

What has changed for you since deciding to rebrand as Offshoot? 

Our decision to rebrand stems from the hope that, this year, the zine will include a huge variety of creative work, moving beyond poetry to include submissions of art, photography short fiction and music. 

To that end, we hope our new name will acknowledge the creative work that goes on alongside students’ degree studies and provide a platform whereby any kind of tangential creative growth can happen, not being left to one side in essay and exam season.

Image Credit: Caroline Attfield

With a new academic year already underway, what are your aims for Offshoot across the next two terms? 

Our main aim this year is to continue to gather students’ work, so that it may be both promoted and preserved within the zine. 

This will in most part take place on our website, but also we hope, within two printed editions that will coincide with each academic term. Within team discussions, we have also shared aspirations to host events for students, where they might be able to read and perform their work. 

It is our wish that students will grow in confidence when it comes to sharing their work and that it can become something they will never shy away from or feel intimidated by.

A print version of Offshoot sounds like an exciting opportunity. So how will this differ from your online platform and what do you intend to showcase in the magazine? 

We hope that through our print edition we can continue to extend the reach of the zine. I feel it will also provide an even greater opportunity to showcase the students’ work. The thought of creating a printed edition, entirely from scratch, that will be made up solely of the students work is really exciting. Its self-contained and self-sustaining nature gets to the centre of what we hope Offshoot can be.

If students are interested in submitting on your website, what types of submissions do you accept and how would they go about it? 

We are hoping to receive students’ submissions of poetry (up to 40 lines per poem), short fiction (up to 2000 words), art and photography (whether it be single pieces, or a series of up to 5) and music, all of which we invite to be sent to our email address: offshootzine@gmail.com

Currently, we are sharing music via links to existing platforms, such as Soundcloud. It’s our hope that we’ll soon we able to facilitate audio on our website, but currently, this is our best means of sharing it.

As well as accepting submissions, do you have any exciting events or other plans scheduled in the upcoming months?

We are continuing to drum up ideas for our own live readings and music events. However, a connection we have been fortune enough to inherit from Katie and Dan’s team last year, is the possibility of getting involved in Sussex’s annual Poetry Festival. 

Last year, I know that Katie and the team were able to put forward poets to read at the festival, who had previously submitted work to The Stanza. To offer students support in taking part in events like this remains a central aim of ours and something we hope to expand upon this coming year. 

With your aim stemming from encouraging student’s creativity, are you open to students’ helping you organise Offshoot, or collaborating with other publications?

We hope that students may support Offshoot by letting us know their thoughts about the zine; particularly the ways in which we might be able to improve or adapt to their own aspirations when it comes to sharing their work. 

Such a large part of the zine’s purpose is to try and represent the variety of interests and talents amongst Sussex students, making their input into the development of Offshoot vital. Given too, that part of the team is made up of third year students, we can only expect for Offshoot to continue to grow and develop as our team changes. We hope that making connections with students that currently want to submit will also come to directly influence the make-up of our core team.

Image Credit: Caroline Attfield

Since you have started opening up your submissions to other multimedia forms of art, not simply poetry, are you still defining Offshoot as mainly a platform for poetry? If not, what do you now want the perception of Offshoot to be?

Offshoot is now much more about being a combination of artistic forms, in the hope we might substantiate the importance of each of these forms alone, but equally invite readers to view them collectively. With regard to submissions, one of our hopes is that individual students might send us their work from across different mediums, for example their poetry and their photography. 

Perhaps the most important thing we’d like for students to keep in mind when they think of Offshoot is that we are a place where they can share their creative experiments. Whether they feel their work is well-refined or spontaneous and immediate, there is always room for creativity in the zine. As time passes, we hope Offshoot will exist to present Sussex students’ continuous creative development. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak about Offshoot Georgina. I am excited to see how Offshoot develops across the next year with new submissions from Sussex students. 

 Featured Image Credit: Urmila Reghunath
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