Subnivean, SUNY Oswego’s student-run literary magazine with an international reach, recently earned a spotlight on the huge stage of a conference for writers and college writing programs.

Current student Edward Sourby, English and creative writing faculty member Soma Mei Sheng Frazier –- who launched the magazine and teaches the classes that put it together –- and alumni Shannon Sutorius and Pamela Toussaint presented at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Philadelphia in late March. Their session, “Total Strangers: Undergrads, Authors, Editors on Amplifying International Voices,” also featured award-winning author Arisa White, a Subnivean contributor. 

This conference usually draws in more than 10,000 attendees and is meant to be a center of celebration and discussion for writers everywhere. 

I enjoyed the panels I went to a lot, and I bought a bunch of books from the book fair that I won’t have time to read until the semester ends,” said Sourby, a senior creative writing major and former poetry editor for Subnivean. 

Despite fewer attendees at this year's conference, Sourby still felt appropriately overwhelmed. A lot of that was also due to the city itself, but Sourby was still overjoyed with the experience and was happy to be able to mingle and communicate with those who share his passion. 

Sourby provided insight on how he read pieces as an editor, mainly by gaining as much context as he could about the person who wrote it to ensure he was giving them as fair a shake as possible, noting “if someone’s first language wasn’t English, it didn’t feel fair to judge based on minor errors that come with translation.” 

Sourby also commented on the recent Subnivean awards and its poetry judge Juan Felipe Hurrera, and his importance on establishing diverse judges for these awards. “We should absolutely be open to international judges, especially since we are open to international submitters,” Sourby said. 

This desire for more diverse judges shouldn’t be too hard to satisfy since Subnivean has received submissions from 52 countries, he noted. Such a high number in a relatively short lifespan has Sourby optimistic, as it is a great opportunity for writers who might desire to have their own country recognized in this ever-growing literary journal. 

Powerful poetry

Outside of editing, Sourby recently had an opportunity to receive the spotlight he normally shines on others with the publication of his visual poem “I Have Always Looked Like This.”

The poem navigates Sourby’s feelings after receiving surgery in which his breasts were removed. Illustrations of his body pre- and post-surgery complement his articulate expression of how the surgery simply allowed other people to view him in the same way he always viewed himself. A transgender man, Sourby’s poetry and nonfiction works focus on themes of family, mental illness and queer experiences. 

Originally, Subnivean was not planning to allow SUNY Oswego students to submit work for the literary journal, focusing instead on representing the world outside the campus. With the work of Sourby and another Oswego student, David Moore, the magazine chose to amend their policy to applaud their outstanding quality of these student poems.

It was “so much of an honor" for his work to appear in the publication, Sourby said. "As a former editor, I know how many pieces get looked at and how critical we are of each one. I am really glad I got to contribute to the magazine and that my piece resonated with so many people.”

Subnivean has garnered additional acclaim in its relatively short lifespan. Last year, the magazine was one of four finalists in the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses’ 2021 Firecracker Award in the category of Magazines: Best Debut. 

For more information on the student-run literary magazine, visit

–- Written by Bryce Levac of the Class of 2023