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January 23, 2018

SVSU literary arts journal receives highest national honor – again

The student staff of Cardinal Sins, a student-run literary arts journal at Saginaw Valley State University, have seen their hard work rewarded with a top national award. The American Scholastic Press Association honored the publication with its Most Outstanding University Literary-Art Magazine for 2017. Only two college journals nationwide are selected for the award.

The judges wrote: “Cardinal Sins is an amazing publication! Not only have you mastered the basic elements of a good magazine (staff box, table of contents, etc.) but you have also published excellent works from your school population. Cardinal Sins is a model for those up-and-coming magazines and an inspiration for those that haven't quite aced the necessary skills.”

Victoria Phelps, editor-in chief of Cardinal Sins, said she and her editorial staff devoted countless hours to solicit and judge the exceptional poetry, fiction, and art submissions that appeared in the journal. On average, the staff receives 300 poems, 80 fiction pieces, and 120 art and photography submissions per issue.

“It was really exciting for me,” said Phelps, an English literature major from Rochester Hills. “I don't know how much credit I can take for myself. So much of it is the wonderful quality of our submissions. The other editors do a lot of the grunt work. We've been blessed to have an amazing core staff, many of them involved for years before I was involved." 

Cardinal Sins received the same award for 2016. Peter Brian Rose-Barry, the Finkbeiner Endowed Professor of Ethics at SVSU who served as adviser to Cardinal Sins for several years, including the previous two award-winning years, said Phelps has shown exceptional dedication to ensure the publication is of the highest quality.

“It's no surprise that Cardinal Sins has won this prestigious award the last two years under Tori's leadership,” Rose-Barry said. “She has been a remarkably effective at every level of production from content to organization to design and presentation. She has done as much to make herself indispensable to Cardinal Sins as anyone could.”

Now in her third and final year as editor-in-chief, Phelps and her team are hard at work preparing for 2018 winter edition.

Recently, the print publication and its corresponding website have been redesigned to help establish a brand, Phelps said.

"We wanted Cardinal Sins to look more modern," said Phelps. "We lean toward surrealist, sometimes absurdist content. You can see that in our art and in our writing. It's been enjoyable to see the changes over the years."

Phelps arrived at SVSU with previous award-winning experience. She served as co-editor of her high school newspaper at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester Hills, which won the National Pacemaker Award in 2014, given by the National Scholastic Press Association. This is considered the top award for high school journalism.  

"To have a similar experience now with Cardinal Sins, that has been reaffirming for me,” Phelps said. “That was judged very similarly to this,"

Cardinal Sins has received several accolades from American Scholastic Press Association over the years. The magazine placed first with special merit in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2016, and received first place awards in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2015.

More information about the journal can be found at www.cardinalsinsjournal.com.