When the newly-restored Gillioz Theatre reopened in 2006, Missouri State University faculty saw an opportunity for a creative celebration of Springfield’s rich history and culture.
“There was an idea that departments within the College of Arts and Letters could work together to produce a book,” said Michael Czyzniejewski, assistant professor of English and an editor of the Moon City Press (MCP). “They wanted to make note of this historical theater which had fallen on hard times and then rebounded.”
One decade after the publication of “The Gillioz: Theatre Beautiful,” the mission of the MCP remains the same. Featuring collaborations between students and faculty, the MCP strives to be a place where Ozarks history can be remembered and reconstructed through poetry, story and art.
Introducing Ozarkian culture to the world
In the early days of the press, its publications, specifically the Moon City Review, focused primarily on Springfield and Ozark culture.
“The Moon City Review was a publication that mostly served local students and faculty,” said Czyzniejewski. “But I believed that the Ozarks had more to offer than just bringing Ozarkian authors to the world — I believed Ozarkians could run a press as well as anyone else could run a press.”
Today, the MCP publishes internationally-recognized authors and receives writing contest submissions from around the world. As its reach and impact on the literary community grows, the press is fulfilling its dual purpose of cultural competence and community engagement.
Opportunities for students
Students, who make up a majority of the MCP staff, contribute to the press by reviewing and selecting which submissions will be included in the Moon City Review.
Anastasia Berkovich, a graduate creative writing major from Raymore, says the hands-on experience with the press has helped her grow as a writer.
“A writer learns so much from reading, especially when we are reading to discuss whether or not a story is good enough to publish,” said Berkovich. “It helps me see how the acceptance process works and what people are writing, what’s working and what’s trending.”
While the opportunity to practice what she learns in the classroom is beneficial, it’s the relationships with authors that the press publishes and brings to campus that are truly invaluable to Berkovich.
“We will often meet up after their readings and discuss writing, life and everything,” said Berkovich. “It’s those moments where you learn so much more than you ever could in the classroom.”
The month of September will include three opportunities to hear from authors recently published by the MCP:
- “Field Guide to the End of the World,” a collection of apocalyptic poetry by Jeannine Hall Gailey, will be released on Sept. 1 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.
- Nancy Fairbank, author of “Throwaway Youth: Stories of Springfield’s Homeless Teens,” will visit the Library Center (4653 S. Campbell Ave.) for a dramatic reading and book signing at 7 p.m. Sept. 2.
- Laura Hendrix Ezell, author of “A Record of Our Debts,” will visit campus for a reading and book signing at 7 p.m. Sept. 23 in the Plaster Student Union Theater.
For more information, contact Czyzniejewski at 417-836-5418.