About six months ago, when Virginia Commonwealth University director of student media Greg Weatherford and a group of founding advisors met to discuss what to call the nonfiction journal they sought to launch, numerous offbeat suggestions arose. Then novelist and creative-writing professor Susann Cokal looked out the window and said, "Call it Broad Street." The name stuck.
The annual "New Magazine for True Stories" has its first issue scheduled for release in June, with distribution to independent bookstores throughout the country. The current board of advisors includes graphic designers and artists Sterling Hundley, Tyler Darden and Robert Meganck, creative nonfiction writer and teacher Harrison Fletcher, Weatherford, and Cokal.
Editor Chad Luibl is in his first year of the MFA program in creative writing at VCU. "I'm a fiction guy, but this magazine is making an effort to reach a wide audience," Luibl says, "not just a scholarly niche."
Contributors include Shalom Auslander, a novelist and essayist; former Richmonder Chad Hunt, with a photo essay on soldiers in and after Afghanistan; and Tama Janowitz, 1980s icon and author of Slaves of New York.
The debut issue also includes an interview with Jeanette Winterson, whose bestselling memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, deals with her upbringing as an adopted child in a family that didn't love her. "We talked about how she became a writer," Luibl says. "It was supposed to be a brief discussion but went an hour."
Funded through university student fees that also cover student publications, Broad Street has a website ( broadstreetonline.org ) featuring a regularly updated blog. "There are short, interesting bits," Weatherford says, "and sometimes links to what we think might interest the Broad Street reader."