Student-run literary magazine Subnivean earns national recognition, makes global connections


December 23, 2021

Fresh off a nomination for a 2021 Firecracker Award for Best Debut Magazine, SUNY Oswego’s student-run publication Subnivean has big plans as it continues to digitally accept prose and poetry from all over the world. 

Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, an assistant professor of English and creative writing, created Subnivean as part of her Creative Writing 395 and Creative Writing 313 courses, where her students can understand, edit and work for an international publication. 

The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) offers annual Firecracker Awards. These national awards are for independently published literature to celebrate books and magazines that contribute to literary culture. 

According to the website, “Prizes are awarded in the categories of Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Magazine/General Excellence and Magazine/Best Debut.” 

“The CLMP’s nod to Subnivean came at the conclusion of the first annual Subnivean Awards competition,” Frazier said. 

To be considered for the debut category, magazines need to be first published between 2019 and 2021. There were only four finalists for this category, and Frazier added it was a great honor to be considered for since it is a national competition.

Alongside the Firecracker Award, Subnivean was recognized at the FUSE National Colloquium, which is a forum for undergraduate student editors. Shannon Sutorius, former fiction editor and event host, was on the panel, representing Subnivean. 

“Although my official staffer tenure has ended, I just did a panel for Subnivean and will be doing the same panel, but at a larger scale, in March 2022, at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” Sutorius said.

Professional experience in classrooms

“Subnivean started in late 2020; it’s a class that I created with my students in mind because I wanted them to have a foothold in the literary community,” Frazier said. “We take submissions from writers all over the world.” 

Frazier added that Subvnivean -- which means situated or transpiring under snow -- has received submissions from 48 countries and 49 U.S. states. However, she noted that she hasn’t counted the numbers of submissions in a while so it could have changed. 

Student editors read these submissions, vote, edit and comment. Subnivean releases three publications a year: one in the fall, one in the spring and one in the summer. But Frazier said that could change in some years. 

“When we started, we were going to release quarterly but after the first year we were exhausted and realized three publications might be better,” she said. “However, it might be four publications in certain years due to the inclusion of a print anthology.” 

Sutorius said students are required to hold a position and select that position during the start of the class. 

“Every student is required to hold some sort of position, from the student editor-in-chief to talent scouts and social media managers,” Sutorius said. “Every student is required to pick a role to work at the magazine at the beginning of the class, but with every semester the staff is constantly changing.” 

As fiction editor, Sutorius focused less on editing submissions for grammar or spelling mistakes but rather used a tool called Submittable to sort through submissions to curate what would be included in that edition. As event host, she was in charge of facilitating the Subnivean Awards event for spring 2021. 

The Subnivean Awards is an international competition for poetry and fiction which include high-visibility judges. For the Spring 2021 awards event, judges included acclaimed writers Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), April Sinclair and Arisa White. 

“The awards consist of eight finalists who read their works, whether poetry or fiction, are judged and then the winner is announced,” Frazier said. 

Currently Frazier and her students are in the process of working on their fourth publication and their 2021-2022 Subnivean Awards. Incoming final judges for this awards event will include U.S. Poet Laureate Emeritus Juan Felipe Herrera as well as Handler again. The competition recently opened for online submissions and writers can learn more and submit their work at 

Future plans

Although Subnivean is a national publication, Frazier would like to incorporate local writers and hold more local events to broadcast the magazine. 

“I’m from California, so I know a lot of California writers, and we got them to be a part of it because it was virtual,” she said. “But I think it would be nicer for the campus if there were more local writers, or events surrounding Subnivean.” 

Frazier also hopes to share the publication around the campus community, even though Oswego students cannot submit to Subnivean, due to potential conflicts of interest. For Oswego students, the student-published literary journal The Great Lake Review could be a great outlet. 

“Many students are very new to the publication and storytelling aspect, so this semester we’ve been focusing on finding writings and voting on them,” she said. “But I am going to print out flyers for writers to be encouraged to join the class but I would love to get the word out more.” 

Sutorius added that next year, the class will be able to be taken twice by students so they can help mentor new students to the course. 

“Since Subnivean is broken into two courses, my hope is to have students in Creative Writing 313, understand digital storytelling and then those students will take Creative Writing 395, to mentor those in 313 but also continuing in the senior roles of the magazine,” Frazier said. 

For more information on Subnivean and to read previous issues, visit