Produced by the Department of Media Relations & Publications

Lehman Launches New Literary Magazine Obscura

May 17, 2010

From left to right: Denise Ramirez, Annie Tran, Brian Morgan, Pablo Torres, Aracelis Diamantis, Emperatriz Tejada, Shabana Yusuf, and Jordana Lopez-Da Silva.

After eight months of hard work, Lehman College's new literary magazine, Obscura, has made its debut. The 100-plus-page first issue—completely written, edited, and produced by Lehman students—is now available around campus. It is the first literary magazine at Lehman in almost twenty years.

The magazine, featuring short fiction, poetry, photography, and artwork, was initiated by Professor Terrence Cheng, chair of the English Department. "We had a great group of students, many of them creative writing majors, who were all very excited and motivated to work on it," says Professor Cheng, who was a faculty advisor on the publication along with Professors Flavia Bacarella and Terry Towery, both of the Art Department.

Brian Morgan, a lab technician in the Environmental, Geographic, and Geological Sciences Department, was the editor-in-chief and leads off the issue with a poem entitled "JC," a lament for the late Jim Carroll, a New York-based poet, author, and musician. "This issue represents a year's worth of work," says Morgan. "It's really a professional-looking publication, and we're happy with the way it came out. We put a lot of work into it. We're looking forward to putting out the second issue."

Other entries offer a rich diversity of stories, including the lives of an Indian immigrant (by Karissa Teekah); a Bronx mom on Pelham Parkway (by Kristina Miceli); a fan at a Brazilian soccer match (by Jordana Lopez-da Silva); a young girl learning English who receives a diary as a birthday gift (by Terri Roberts); another young girl who struggles to be loved by her father (by Pablo Torres); and a widow who creates a mechanical husband to replace the one she lost (by Annie Tran).

The fiction and poetry editors were Emperatriz Tejada, Denise Ramirez, Pablo Torres, Annie Tran, Ladyne Gomez, and Shabana Yusuf. Aracelis Diamantis and Slavko Malevic were the photography and art editors, and Jordana Lopez-da Silva the copy editor. Louis Riso, a photography student in the Art Department took the cover shot, a black-and-white photo of a fog-enshrouded water tower in New Rochelle, to visually depict the notion of Obscura, as in 'camera obscura'—or "dark room" in Latin. "We chose the name because we felt we were projecting into the darkness with these poems, stories, and ideas," says Morgan, "and the cover image was perfect because it's a photo that's a little more open to interpretation."

Starting a new literary magazine was something that Professor Cheng was "always interested in," since joining the Lehman faculty in 2003. After becoming chair last year, he secured funding for the first issue with the help of the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Campus Life, and Dean of Arts and Humanities Dr. Timothy Alborn.

The next step was calling for submissions from the writers and artists within the student body. Professor Cheng approached several students whose writing he knew and received an overwhelming response. "The students did everything," he says. "They gave up their time to get submissions, to read them, go through the editing process and the production process," he says. "And no one was compensated. It was all on a volunteer basis."

Copies of Obscura are available in the Office of the English Department in Carman Hall, the bookstore, and the Student Life Building.