A literary journal with a legacy

Recalling the history of 7 Mondays.

What’s in a name? The question, as it pertains to 7 Mondays, Mount Allison’s oldest student-edited creative journal, is one that has been thrown around by students for years. Is it an obscure literary reference that no one recognizes? Is it a club that meets at 7:00 pm on Monday? Or is it perhaps just an arbitrary title for a magazine? In fact, none of these theories are correct. Rather, the origin of the journal’s name is indicative of its twenty-year long history, and its beginnings as a journal born out of administrative controversy, student initiative, and the need for a creative outlet on campus.

As we know it today, 7 Mondays is a society that produces the university’s annual literary and photography journal, which features works of poetry, prose, playwriting, and photography. It is produced through Anchorage Press, a Jolicure-based printing press run by fine-arts professor Thaddeus Holownia. Holownia is also the journal’s designer and manages photo submissions. 7 Mondays serves as an outlet for budding writers and photographers to publish their work in a supportive, professional, and creative environment.

However, as 7 Mondays prepares for a students’ union-sponsored referendum asking the student-body to restore their former three dollar student levy, the question that students are being asked is: Why should we care?

As it turns out, the answer to this question is intimately linked to the question regarding the origin of the journal’s name. In 1994, after a group of students and faculty began to notice a void in the campus’ artistic landscape, they too began to wonder if they should care more about the literary arts.

They decided they should.  In an effort to build a stronger artistic community, the idea to create a literary journal was already in the works when, in 1995, former university president Ian Newbould abruptly cut funding for the English Department’s writer-in-residence program, without explanation. Poet Elin Elgaard had been hired for the position just before the program was discontinued.

However, Elgaard was married to Michael Thorpe, an English professor who publicly opposed many of Newbould’s policies. The connection between the discontinued program and Elgaard’s relationship to the outspoken Professor Thorpe was viewed as more than coincidental.

With that in mind, Elgaard brought the case to the Human Rights Commission, where she filed a complaint of marital status discrimination in employment against the university. After a drawn out process, Elgaard won the case against the administration in 2000.

In the meantime however, Elgaard began to act as the unofficial writer-in-residence, and together with a group of dedicated students they produced the first volume of 7 Mondays.  It took seven weeks of Monday night meetings to produce the journal—hence the name 7 Mondays.

“Elin’s choice [to become involved with the journal] was, I think, a way to respond positively to the Administration’s [sic] fiat,” Thorpe wrote via email.

In a way, that is the answer to the question ‘why should we care?’ As students, we should care about artistic endeavours because we—like the first group of editors—have the ability to create a positive and meaningful legacy that builds an enduring creative community.

7 Mondays has been published annually since 1995, and has been funded by a three-dollar student levy from the students’ union since 2000. This funding continued until last year, when students voted against a referendum to renew the levy.

Although 7 Mondays did not receive financial support from students in 2013, the journal will still be produced as usual, due to a budgetary surplus that had been building over the years.

“One of the problems with the old system is that the way the referendum question was worded, there were sharp restrictions with what we could do with that money,” said 7 Mondays editor Sean McDonell. “We were only allowed to publish the magazine and buy ourselves dinner to celebrate.”

The editorial team hopes to change this system so that any left over money can go towards presenting more public readings and events that continue to foster an artistic legacy that answers the question, ‘why should we care about funding the arts?’

On Jan. 27-28, students can vote online either for or against a three dollar per annum student levy to continue supporting 7 Mondays.  To submit to the journal, email [email protected] by Jan. 27.

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