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RipRap Writes On

For 60 years, the Cal State Long Beach literary journal now called RipRap has flourished as the campus outlet for creative writing.

Initiated in 1951 as Hornspoon and later called Gambit, it’s now published by students in the English Department’s Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program. Over time, its scope has expanded worldwide.

RipRap and Hornspoon poetry books
RipRap is vital not only to maintain CSULB’s presence in the literary community, but also as a platform where writers from all walks of life can meet and get a chance to be published,” said Sophia Morales, editor in chief of the most recent issue 33, who graduated in May and hopes to teach and publish.

RipRap chronicles time, said this year’s editor, Eric Forrester. “The journal not only reflects writing in the Long Beach area, but also examines the discourse that matters to our society. And, what we publish may be completely different year to year. It’s a piece of literary history. When seen this way, it makes you think about how far we’ve come in the last five or six decades.”

When Morales took over, “My personal focus as editor in chief was to broaden RipRap’s reaches, to further push the boundaries, to progress the journal and represent the steady evolutionary process that literature is so characteristic of,” she said, turning it into a piece of art in itself by including original student artwork and employing a letterpress designer for the cover, a bookmark designer, and an M.F.A. art student as creative director.

“Knowing that there was a chance I could get involved in the publication of such a well established literary journal as well as learning from a great faculty became my top reasons for applying to CSULB,” said Forrester, a globetrotting former member of the Air Force who majored in English at UC Irvine before coming to Cal State Long Beach.

Just as important, he said, “The students get to learn the editorial process—editing for publications, marketing tools, printing, publishing, layout, distribution and event planning. So, it’s not only a way to learn about diverse writing, but also a way to learn about publishing.

“New journals are popping up all over the world. And, if you live in the Long Beach area there are always readings happening throughout the city,” he noted.

Although RipRap isn’t currently online, “The influence of technology is something the arts cannot ignore, nor should it be,” Morales noted. “However, there is something so profound about opening the leaves of a journal and reading a poem that’s facing a photograph, feeling the paper between your fingers as you turn to the ending of a short story, and then having the collection stand the test of time, being preserved by an artistic cover and sitting among other published works in someone’s home library, easily accessible any time by anyone.”