Jeopardy is the undergraduate literary magazine for Western Washington University. I caught up with editor Stuart Brewster and assistant editors Adam Pygott, Michelle Callihan, and Aylen Rounds at one of their weekly editorial meetings. In their little office we talked about spelling and basic geometry before getting to the nitty gritty of their publication.

Michael Spier: Jeopardy has a pretty long history. Can you give me a run down of it?

Stuart Brewster: Jeopardy started 42 years ago. It’s always been undergraduate produced, but up until two years ago it accepted submissions from all around the world. We’ve gotten lots of famous people published in our magazine, and it used to be nationally recognized.

Two years ago we switched over to only accepting submissions from people who are affiliated with Western Washington University or have been in the past— so, students, faculty, staff, and alumni— and that’s kind of shaped the nature of the magazine in terms of the service it provides to the community.
The name comes from placing yourself in danger and the idea that, through your art and through speaking and speaking up, and through expressing your artistic vision, you’re kind of putting yourself on the edge.

MS: What’s going on with this year’s Jeopardy? You’re doing something different with a theme?

Michelle Callihan: Yeah, we have a theme this year, which is “unspoken.” It’s very exciting.

SB: It tends to kind of be an unthemed publication, but we wanted to see how— because now the publication is about the Western community— we wanted to see what the Western community has to say about the particular idea. We think it’s pretty relevant politically and internationally as well as just the fact that all literature and art in some way addresses the idea of the unspoken by speaking or by expressing itself so we were interested in how people would respond to that theme and what they would have to say about it.

Aylen Rounds: And actually in the seventies they had themed editions, I think, from 1972 to 1977.

MS: So, do all submissions need to follow your theme, then?

SB: Not necessarily. We do take it into consideration when figuring out what will go into the final edition, but we except non-themed submissions as well.

MS: So, what are you hoping to do with this issue, in addition to a theme, that might add to the Jeopardy tradition?

Adam Pygott: One of the things I hope to do is maybe give it a younger feel because if you go through some of the older issues it feels a bit more elegant…

MC: [laughs]

AP: … a little stuffy. They do feel somewhat stuffy. I was kind of hoping that one of the things we’ll do with the unspoken is take things that are a little bit off the main track of what normal artistic elements are.

AR: Also, a lot of the publication and design work hasn’t been started.

AP: This year we’re also trying to reach out towards artists. A lot of the Jeopardy magazines before don’t have a great deal of art in them, and this year we’re actually trying to reach out to the art department and trying to inform them about Jeopardy, so we’re hoping to have a little bit more artwork than the last issues.

MS: Have you been thinking of any other magazines when you’re thinking of your format for this year?

SB: I don’t know that we’re looking to emulate anyone else— I think that it’s very important to make sure that Jeopardy has its own identity— but closer to the beginning of the year, when we were considering the direction we wanted to go editorially, we looked at graphic novel anthologies, at past editions of Jeopardy and at the Bellingham Review to see how we can differentiate ourselves from them. We’ve looked at a lot of sources, I guess, for inspiration.

MS: Is there anything that you don’t want to publish?

SB: We look at Jeopardy as a publication that would accept anything that could be reasonably represented on the printed page. We’re willing to do a lot of experimental stuff; we talked about theatre work, radio plays, children’s stories, and more traditional things that go in literary anthologies like translations or essays. We probably wouldn’t do so much of the translations or essays because we really want not so much cultural critique as original work.

MS: When is the next deadline for submissions to Jeopardy?

SB: March 6, which is the Monday of Dead Week.

MS: Is there anything else that our readers should know about?

SB: We have a reading. We do quarterly reading events original fiction, non-fiction, stuff like that. This quarter it’s on February 16 at 5 p.m. at the Underground Coffeehouse. This time we have Bruce Beasley, who works in the English department; Sarah Rankin, who works with crime and sexual assault services; Kerri Thornton, who is a student; Matt Roberts, who was an editor last year; and also Oliver de la Paz, who is also a professor in the English department, so it’s a pretty good line-up.