Eli Epstein-Deutsch ‘10 decided last year that there was no publication on campus appropriate for much of what he wanted to write. He was a staff writer for the Living and Arts section of the Phoenix, but that was not an appropriate venue for longer articles about events in Philadelphia, for example. So last semester, he decided that he would create such a venue, and the Night Cafe was conceived. Its first issue will be published next week.
The Night Cafe will contain longer feature articles, many of which will be about topics outside of Swarthmore. Epstein-Deutsch said he envisioned it as something along the lines of the Atlantic Monthly or the New Yorker in tone and content. The Night Cafe will, like these magazines, have a focus on the arts and culture, but will also feature personal essays and some science writing in “lay prose.” In the future, forms like travel writing and book reviews could also be included.
Epstein-Deutsch started asking around last semester for people who he thought might be interested in working on this project with him. One of the people he asked was Marina Tempelsman ‘10. Tempelsman had been a co-editor of a literary magazine in her high school, and after Epstein-Deutsch pitched the idea to her, she offered to take on a similar role for the Night Cafe.
The two co-editors then began the process of actually producing the magazine. Rather than request articles from the general student population, for the first issue they decided that “it was a good way to start setting the tone for the magazine to go out and make requests for what sort of pieces we wanted,” said Tempelsman. Epstein-Deutsch said that “before I knew the whole scheme of what he wanted to do with the magazine, I didn’t think I could handle opening it up to the whole campus.” So they asked some people if they wanted to write articles, while others heard about what they were doing and approached them.
According to Epstein-Deutsch, putting together the first issue was “definitely a learning experience” for him. One of his goals was to include some science writing, in an effort to “bring the humanities kids and the science kids together, because there seems to be a bit of a rift there.” He thinks that “humanities kids” don’t really know what the “science kids” are doing, in general, and that a magazine including both topics in a form accessible to everyone could help solve that problem. Unfortunately, although he had a few such articles pitched to him, none of them worked out for the first issue.
In fact, Epstein-Deutsch said that in general, he “probably asked for about twice as many articles as are going to be in this issue.” Yet those articles that didn’t work out were not necessarily due to a lack of interest. Said Tempelsman, “because the articles are so specific to people’s interests, people are very enthusiastic about writing.”
Once the articles were finalized, the layout was designed, and funding was secure, the Night Cafe was ready to print. The first issue will be released next week: there will be a release reception next Thursday, the seventh, from 4:30 to 6:00 in the LPAC lobby, to be followed by an afterparty at the WRC at 8:00.
The first issue will include an interview with a Philadelphia playwright, a review of a Philadelphia museum, and other arts- and culture-based articles. There will also be a history of “some of the more bizarre calls that Workbox has had to deal with,” a photojournalism insert on Darfur “from a more artistic perspective,” a piece of fiction, and a few poems. Several of the articles have illustrations by Nicole Singer ‘10, who also made some stand-alone comics and op-art pieces.
So what does the future hold for the Night Cafe? There will be one more issue this semester, which will be open to the community at large. Tempelsman said she hopes “campus interest will pique” and they will be able to include other types of writing. In the short term, they are particularly looking for someone to write about Philadelphia — “neighborhood trends, urban issues, style, food culture, or anything else of interest” — and someone to write “entertaining, accessible pieces about recent research, scientific controversy, technology, science history, or developments in any field.”
Starting next year, Epstein-Deutsch has set an “ambitious goal” of three issues per semester, though that is of course dependent on interest and on how long the process ends up taking. Much of the magazine’s future still depends on “how people respond” to the first issue, said Tempelsman, though they certainly plan on continuing it “fairly regularly.”
Meanwhile, she hopes that next week, people will “read [the first issue] and take interest.” Anyone with comments or interested in participation should contact them. For the next issue, unsolicited submissions of essays, fiction, photography or art will be accepted until April 10th.