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Meet Jonathan Han—BU’s Publishing Pioneer

Meet Jonathan Han, a junior from Hong Kong, majoring in English at the College of Arts and Sciences, set to graduate this year from BU. As a previous intern at the Oxford University Press Publishing company last year, he’s been involved in numerous publications back on BU’s campus, including reviving The Beacon, an old BU literary magazine that ceased publishing in the 1950s. I asked him a few questions regarding the mark he has left at BU.

Q: You’re pretty active in the literary community on campus, can you summarize your work?

A: “So, there are three parts. This first part is literary journals or magazines, and that is focusing on publishing from students not only from Boston University, but at other universities. For some journals I work with, we accept entries from literally anyone. For example, the Clarion Magazine is run by BU students, but work is submitted from everyone, along with the revival of the now defunct magazine The Beacon. The second part is more focused on my own writing, I write for not only magazines but poetry as well. I organize poetry readings and conferences around the university. This came out of students who are in creative writing courses. I was trying to offer a venue for people who wanted to read their work out of those classes. The third part is editing. This spring, we’re hosting the Northeastern Publishing Conference (PubCon) which focuses on the publishing industry and provides a glimpse into what it means to be a literary agent and editor, and other roles people [have] in the industry [that] undergrad students may not be familiar with.”

Q: Can you tell me more about The Beacon?

A: “It’s going well! The Beacon was started in 1875 and ended in 1951. We are trying to revive it with the help of the English Department. I worked with Clinical Associate Professor Svenvoekal in the CAS department to try to get English students [to] publish their essays and prose poetry. So far, we have been getting submissions and we have two $25 prizes for students that submit their best essay and best creative writing piece. The submissions can be about anything!”

Q: Which publication do you feel is most important to you and vital to the BU community?

A: “As a writer myself, I really rely on the feedback that I get on my work. Let’s say you have a book that's not selling well, that's where you have to rely on your contacts such as family and friends to help buy your work. However, with that being said, I honestly don’t expect people to read any of the journals because they’re a hundred forty pages and that’s too long for most people's attention span. I don’t even read my own work! The most important journals are ones that are rarely read. T.S Eliot once said it’s so hard for small journals to be read because there are multiple journals for multiple departments at every university no matter where you go. The act of writing itself is like an exercise for my own benefit. The people I interact with while being an editor and writer are my real audience because they’re gaining experience in the whole process. Those are the ones I care about.”

Q: What would you say to aspiring writers or people who write for a hobby that would like to get involved in the writing community?

“Writer’s Corridor is a specialty housing community found in Kilachand Hall that meets bi-weekly to [write] pieces for an end-year project that gets published. The program is run by the wonderful Professor Vu and you can write about anything you would like! Outside of that, the writing community can get pretty competitive. Writing can be a one-man act, it's a private enterprise and writers get very protective over their work. Emily Dickinson, for example, wrote over a thousand poems and short stories all by herself. But, if you would like to improve your writing, I encourage people to go to writing workshops and take writing classes in order to be competitive in this industry. It’s also quite fine not to share your work as well since writing can be an emotional, private outlet for thoughts.”

If you’re interested in getting involved with any of Jonathan’s work, follow him on Twitter!


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Niya Doyle is a sophomore at Boston University studying Public Relations and minoring in International Relations. Her hobbies include advocating for civic engagement among young people, writing poetry, and waiting for the new Animal Crossing game to come out.
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