Judge Sourcing for Touchstones Journal

One of the perks of working in the publishing industry—from Touchstones to grad school and far beyond—is the network of talent that knits itself around you there. Not just your own talent, although that begins to weave its own lively patterns. The people you read and write with every day, whose work you peruse and critique season after season, whose obsessions and quirks grow on and in you till they’re almost as much yours as theirs—these are the “gear and tackle and trim” that Gerard Manley Hopkins praised, the variety of richness that grounds and supports your own growth and development. When you’re on an editorial board, as you no doubt will be if you stay in the writing business, you and they will constantly call on each other for help. Our external judges for the Touchstones prose, art, and poetry awards come from just this complex of respected friends and colleagues. We’re thrilled to invite them into the UVU literary world. They’re always delighted by what they discover here.


Our poetry judge for the Spring 2018 issue is Bonnie Arning (https://www.bonniearning.com/), a poet from New Mexico currently based in Corvallis, Oregon.  Her first book of poetry, Escape Velocity, was published in 2017; read an interview about her sequencing strategies here: http://prairieschooner.unl.edu/blog/so-you-wanna-win-book-prize-11. She could teach us all a thing or two about ordering the submissions in our journals.


Our prose judge is Michael Fillerup, a retired educator from the Navajo Reservation near Flagstaff, AZ, and an active novelist and short story writer. Visions and Other Stories, a collection, and Beyond the River, a novel, were published by Signature Books in 1990 and 1995 respectively. Currently he has another short story collection looking for a home as well as an 800-page draft of a novel about the Navajo Code Talkers. He’s also a screenwriter, and is completing a semi-fictional memoir about teachers and teaching. Our friendship goes a long way back, including a remarkable backpacking trip in Glacier National Park during a rainy season in the Nixon era. After looking at the Touchstones website, he tells me he’s beyond honored to adjudicate our outstanding prose submissions.

Our arts judge is Corinne Geertsen (www.corinnegeertsen.com), whose work shows in galleries all over the West. She works with old photographs gleaned from archives and libraries, Photoshopped and painted to illustrate “psychological quirks.” There’s a narrative in every one of her works, which are on display in corporate offices and private homes from Washington to Arizona. Check out her work at the Meyers Gallery in Park City—you’ll be glad you did. Her savvy art, art awareness, and gentle humor have graced my life for decades. We’re lucky to have her looking at the work in this issue of Touchstones.

Developing the credibility and appropriate vocabulary for appraising poetry, prose, and art takes as much time and practice as the literary and artistic work itself. Artists need editors and judges; editors welcome the opportunity to mentor makers of beautiful imaginative new things. This is a joyful work we’re involved in. It will be a pleasure to read the commentary our three judges provide about our upcoming issue. 

--Julie Nichols   March 14, 2018