Adult Students Create Literary Journal that May be First in the U.S.

Students from Mercer’s College of Continuing and Professional Studies have published a literary journal, titled Regeneration!: A Journal of Creative Writing, that may be the first of its kind in the country. The journal is written and edited by non-traditional undergraduate students, and is a first, the group says.

“This book is a landmark publication in undergraduate adult education,” said Dr. Margaret Eskew, the group’s adviser and an associate professor of English in the College. “It is the first journal produced by undergraduate adult learners in the United States, and we are extremely proud of that. We’re also very proud of this work because it features a diversity of voices and it has told the story of adult students who come to complete their education in a personal and unique way.”

The efforts to publish the journal began with a group of 12 students who enrolled in three consecutive writing classes in Macon, over the 2008-2009 academic year, and grew to include writing from all of the College’s locations: Macon, Eastman, Henry County, Douglas County and Atlanta. The result was a landmark publication for undergraduate adult education students — a 288-page journal featuring the works from the College’s students, faculty and staff, as well as Mercer Chancellor Dr. R. Kirby Godsey – already the author of a number of books.

“We didn’t set out to create something that was completely new, but when we looked for models to follow, we just couldn’t find any,” Dr. Eskew said.

The experience has been transformative, say the students in the group, dubbed the Regeneration Writers.

“Dr. Eskew pulled talent out of people that they never realized they had,” said Janet Crocker, one of the original Regeneration writers. “She renewed a latent interest in people who haven’t written in years.  She taught us ways to find stories and the importance of creating an effective location to write.

“I’ve never had a class that involved so much laughter and tears,” said Crocker, who graduated in May 2009 more than 30 years after she began her college experience.
 
The journal is the result of an outpouring of creativity across the College’s locations and has prompted the group to establish Regeneration Writers Press, which will publish a children’s book, as well as other projects and future volumes of Regeneration!, Dr. Eskew said.

“It is my hope that we will be able to provide an example to other programs and other student groups who may want to follow in our footsteps and create their own journals,” said Terri DeFoor, a 2009 graduate who served as the editor on the project. “We plan to send brochures to libraries and deans of adult learning programs across the country.”

The Regeneration Writers have also secured reviews of the journal in Baptist History and Heritage and College Language Association, and an independent review that will be submitted to newspapers. The group hopes its themes shine through, a work that is “dedicated to providing a vehicle for voices to be heard that have been silenced by ignorance, circumstances, oppression, neglect and miseducation,” according to the group’s Web site, www.regenerationpress.com.

“The College of Continuing and Professional Studies faculty is incredibly proud of our students and their beloved professor and mentor, Dr. Eskew,” said Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean of the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. “This effort supports the commitment of Mercer University to ensuring that all of its graduates are proficient in written communication. It has been remarkable to watch these students who, for over one year, met with Dr. Eskew on weekends and often after their evening courses to write and edit this powerful body of work based on their own life stories.  We are fortunate to have the opportunity to share in some of the meaning these students have found in their lives and fortunate, through their writing, to be able to experience their passion for life-long learning.”

The group will hold readings in Macon, Atlanta, Lithia Springs and McDonough as a part of the journal’s launch.

Macon
Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m.
24-Hour Study Area, Tarver Library
Mercer’s Macon campus

Book Launch Celebration and Reading
Sunday, Jan. 31, at 6 p.m.
First Baptist Church of Christ

Lithia Springs
Monday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m.
Library
Douglas Regional Academic Center

McDonough
Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m.
Library
Henry Regional Academic Center

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