Colonnades releases its 70th edition, which touches on themes of grief

Much of the work in Elon's literary and art journal suitably reflects a point in college students' lives when they learn how to deal with trying circumstances.

By Julia Oakes '22 

Of approximately 200 submissions, only three nonfiction pieces, three poetry pieces, 12 poems and 24 art pieces were published in the 70th edition of Colonnades Literary and Art Journal, aptly titled “Issue 70” and released May 1. Though unique in both form and content, each of these pieces share a common theme: grieving.

The theme “drives the force of the journal,” said Colonnades editor-in-chief Natalia Conte ’19. But, noting that “the journal has a lot of complexity,” Conte said, some pieces have multiple threads that be can be traced and are not necessarily confined to the common underlying theme.

“Art shouldn't have a message,” said Drew Perry, an associate professor of English and co-adviser to Colonnades. “It should have questions. The poems and prose and visual art in this year's book leaves the reader in some delightfully unsettled spots.”

Instead of deciding the theme of the journal in advance, journal readers and editors wait to determine the theme around the strongest submissions they receive.

“We don’t want to predetermine a theme because we feel it would be irresponsible to the Elon writing community to do so,” Conte said. “People write their best work when they’re passionate about that work, so we want to accommodate that.”

Conte believes the theme reflects a point of physical maturation in the lives of many college students, who are leaving their teen years and entering adulthood.

“Many of us are experiencing or really critically analyzing the way we grieve for the first time,” Conte said. “Perhaps, it is an old grief that after many years we can finally fully discuss in the right words, or that we have sat with long enough that we can discuss it in a productive meaningful way. Or perhaps we are all in a stage where our parents and grandparents are getting older and we are dealing with the reality of mortality for the first time.”

As a whole, the organization is thrilled with the final product, and they are eager to show it to the Elon community.

Though Conte and her staff faced periods of doubt and worry throughout the publication process, Conte said that it was during those times of trouble that she would refocus her attention and remind herself, “this is a beautiful book.”

Perry said the hard work, synergy and dedication of the staff made this edition of the journal a “gorgeous, moving, complicated book. It's hard, real work to make a book this good.”

“It’s all really, really strong,” said Tita Ramirez, an associate professor of English and co-adviser to Colonnades. “The art is outstanding and really speaks to the writing, which is also beautiful and fun and fresh in ways that I haven’t seen before.”

Colonnades is currently accepting art and literary submissions for next year’s publication, until January 2020. Anyone interested in submitting a writing piece should email, and anyone submitting art should email All submissions should include the author’s full name, university ID number, and genre and title of the piece.