Orange Media Network


Orange Media Network


Orange Media Network



Past and Present: an Interview with PRISM’s Jay Enghauser and Cooper Theodore

A student holding last year’s issue “Bodies” to this year’s submission poster.

Alina: Could both of you tell me a little about yourselves? 

Jay: Hi! I’m Jay, and I’m a fifth year creative writing major and the editor in chief of PRISM. This is my second year at Oregon State – I was a student at Linn Benton Community College before transferring here in the spring of 2022 and I’ll be graduating this year in June. I’m applying to Masters of Fine Arts programs in the Pacific Northwest and to some big five editorial positions while also working on my sci-fi manuscript. I haven’t touched it since Nanowrimo, a contest where people try to write a 50,000 word novel in November. I won Nanowrimo because I got to the word count, and that’s all that matters. 

Cooper: My name is Cooper, and I graduated from OSU in 2023 with a degree in creative writing. The main thing I’m doing right now is freelance graphic design with the School of Writing Literature and Film at OSU where I’ve been making postcards and posters for them. The next thing I will be working on is putting up plaques under some of the professor’s book posters. They’ll describe the professor, their book, and what classes they teach. I’ve also been looking for other jobs. 

Jay: How is the job search going? 

Cooper: Not great. I’ve seen some weird jobs out there, one was a writing for AI job, like to train AI how to write. I would not want to do that. 

Alina: Yeah, it seems weird to train AI how to write when you’re hoping to publish your own creative works. I’m not a big fan of those jobs either. Anyways, how did both of you start working at PRISM? 

Jay: When I first transferred here in 2022, I picked up a copy of PRISM’s Crossroads edition and thought it was super cool. I wanted to at least publish a piece of my writing in it, so I submitted to the journal the next year. I was super interested in volunteering, but unfortunately I didn’t have time for it. The next year, when Bodies had just come out, they made an Instagram post about their open assistant editor position. I didn’t think I would get it, but I applied. One of the requirements was to have six months of volunteer experience with PRISM, and I didn’t have that, but I got the job. Saiun, newly hired editor in chief, was part of the hiring and training experience. 

Cooper: I was in a creative writing class, and the former assistant editor told the class about an opportunity to join as a volunteer. I thought that sounded like fun, especially because I was trying to get more involved on campus, so I contacted PRISM’s social media and they said yes! That was two years ago, during the 2021-2022 school year, and I worked there for all three terms that year. While I first started out by reviewing submissions, I also did some work with podcasts for PRISM’s website.

Alina: What are some of your favorite things about PRISM? 

Jay: I love the new volunteer base we have with PRISM. Everybody is super hard working and willing to put in the hours- we met three times a week for the first few months, and we usually went over the hour time limit. I also like seeing all the submissions. I love having the opportunity to be someone’s first publication; I feel like that’s really special and meaningful. 

Cooper: I loved getting to see what the student body of OSU has to offer in terms of art. There was such a wide variety of writing and art pieces, and there were always some submissions that fell outside of those genres. When I was working there, there were some dance and music videos, and even some clothing. Some of the pieces were from people I’m friends with, and it was always cool to see their art. There’s so many people I don’t know, people who probably aren’t in the humanities majors, and I love that PRISM encourages students from all majors to submit their work. 

PRISM was the first time I ever got published and I was very excited about that. I submitted both years I was part of PRISM. The first year, I submitted photography and it was pretty rushed. I had to sit there while people talked about my photos and that was pretty awkward. The next year, I left the meetings before my submissions were discussed and that helped a lot. I texted my friend afterwards to see if my pieces got in. 

Alina: That was nice of your friends to let you know if your pieces were accepted! I wasn’t in any of the meetings when people discussed my work, and I’m grateful for that. For the most part, volunteers discussed submissions online this year. We only talked about pieces with really mixed opinions in meetings. I’m curious to know how PRISM has changed since you were working there, Cooper. Have you noticed any differences? 

Cooper: Well, when I was a part of PRISM, we didn’t always know the titles of pieces we were looking at if it wasn’t on the submission itself. Sometimes we did with photography, but mostly not. 

Jay: Oh weird, I feel like titles can be important when looking at a piece. 

Cooper: I agree! They can give more context or help viewers understand the artist’s vision for the piece. Oh also, we avoided taking too many submissions from any one person last year. I understood it was for variety, but I felt like it was kind of a bummer. One person submitted five really fantastic, extremely unique art pieces. It was really sad to say no to some of them just because we didn’t want to accept all the submissions from one person. I talked to friends who had one piece accepted, and a lot of them said “Yeah, that was my least favorite piece.” The one PRISM accepted from me was so silly, I mean I like it, but it wasn’t as serious as the others I submitted. 

Jay: You were basically the only person who worked there last year, right? 

Cooper: Yeah, we had some volunteers for the review committee, but PRISM itself had very few volunteers that year.

Jay: I bring that up all the time because we have 20 volunteers this year. We went through 700 submissions in a month!

Cooper: That’s insane! Last year was brutal. 

Alina: It sounds really hard, and I’m impressed you were able to do so much by yourself. Jay, I know you’re graduating this year. Do you know who will replace your PRISM position? 

Jay: Not yet, but the editor application for PRISM is actually coming up soon, on February 26th. I really want it to be a volunteer from this year because you guys have a transparent view of how PRISM works, especially with all the changes it’s gone through this year. I think it will be even better next year. The team will have all the notes I took this year and it should go a lot smoother. 

Cooper: That’s great! I hope it continues to get easier each year. 

Alina: Me too, and I’m sure you’ll find someone great to fill the position. As a PRISM volunteer, I noticed that the journal is making a lot of efforts to highlight different types of creative works and expand our online presence. Cooper, what were some of your goals with the journal last year?

Cooper: I think it was fairly similar. I think it’s a pretty common goal to get in a lot of different types of art submissions. The clothing was cool, and someone submitted dragon figures! I think a big priority has always been having a variety of submissions. With how small the volunteer group was, a lot of it was just getting stuff done. I think a lot of what you’ve been saying about Jay’s administration are things we’ve valued for awhile. I’m excited that this year’s group has been able to do more with the bigger group of volunteers.

Alina: Where do each of you imagine PRISM going in future years? 

Jay: A co-editor role might happen in the future if we get more people involved. Beyond that, I can see more positions opening up. We’re the smallest team on Orange Media Network right now, with only two paid positions. I hope PRISM’s audience continues to grow in the future. Also, we’d like to pay people for their submissions if they get accepted, and we would like to pay volunteers for their time, at least for the content like blog posts and podcasts.

Alina: That would be amazing to offer payment for submissions! I think it would encourage even more people to submit. 

Jay: Oh also, this year’s launch party is going to be part of North West Spring Fest, one of OSUPC’s biggest events of the year. There will be 3,000 people there, so a lot more people will get to learn about PRISM. I think that’s going to be a big push for the presence we’re trying to achieve on campus. Another thing we’ve changed is creating “other content,” a third category outside of the normal “yes” or “no” votes on submissions. This category is for pieces we liked and were strong, but didn’t make it into the journal. Those submissions will be posted on the website, so people can still get their writing and art out there even if it’s not in the printed edition. We’ve started contacting people about posting their pieces online and they have been really excited so far! Finally, working towards becoming more accessible to e-campus students has been a big goal this year. We updated the website and have been trying to post more on our Instagram. Overall, I think that these changes will make PRISM even bigger in the future and more accessible to students who aren’t based in Corvallis.

Cooper: Yeah, I think building community with e-campus students can be really difficult. I like that you’re working on including them more. 

Alina: Are either of you thinking of working at a literary journal in the future? 

Jay: All the MFA programs I’ve applied to have some sort of literary journal associated with them. If I get into one, I’ll definitely be helping with the journal! I’m actually looking to start a literary journal at some point. The plan is to start it this summer, and then slowly build up. It’s going to be all online, at least in the beginning and maybe forever, and that’s okay. 

Alina: Wow, that’s awesome! What types of works are you hoping to submit? Would it be just literature, or also art? 

Jay: Lit and art, and it would be across all genres. 

Cooper: That’s really cool! To answer your question Alina, I definitely am interested in working at a journal. I would love to work as an editor. Right now, that’s my dream position. I really enjoyed my time at PRISM and at the Creative Writing Society at OSU. I had so much fun editing works, judging works, and making things the best they can be. I would love to be part of an editing team,  and it’s because of PRISM I feel that way. 

Alina: Well, that’s all the time we have today. Thank you so much Jay and Cooper for sharing your thoughts about PRISM! 

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About the Contributor
Alina Kroll
Alina Kroll, Volunteer
Alina Kroll (she/her/hers) is a fourth-year student majoring in English and creative writing. She is also the president of the Student Literary Club and works as a writing consultant at OSU’s writing center. She enjoys reading fiction and literary fiction novels, but she mainly writes nonfiction or fiction short stories. Outside of school, Alina loves spending time with her pet mouse and cooking massive pots of soup each weekend. She plans to become an author after graduating.

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