IGNITE updates
MA Publishing takeover 02: Save our Seas!

Moving on from INK, the University’s creative writing journal, we wanted to introduce you to another one of our ‘newborn’ projects. Save Our Seas! is an anthology of work created by local school children and developed in collaboration with Plymouth City Council, and it also published this week. We love a good birthday! 

The University have worked with the Council over a number of years to produce annual anthologies of young people’s writing and art, with each volume taking a different theme. This year, the team (led by Jennifer Lodge, MA Publishing, Managing Editor) decided to build on momentum around the climate emergency, as well as the University’s work on plastics in the ocean, and put out a call for submissions addressing the need to protect our seas. The resulting volume provides responses from the next generation of our local community to the environmental challenges we’re facing both here in Plymouth and across the globe – contributions that are often genuinely thought-provoking. 

In a normal year, the MA Publishing team would work alongside BA English with Publishing students to run in-person sessions at local schools with the aim of helping pupils to develop their ideas for submission. This year however, with lockdown hitting, we had to be more creative in our approach and the team decided to put together a series of digital workshops instead. They orchestrated a fantastic promotion campaign to spread the word, and the end result was more than 250 submissions (and a larger editorial job to make the final selection!) 

Once entries had been received, the team worked to identify the items that would be featured and, guided by Editor Abbie Howard (MA Publishing), prepared them carefully for inclusion. Editing children’s work requires particular sensitivity and fine judgement: there’s a balance to be struck between editing for sense, allowing creative licence and making sure that the young person’s authentic voice shines through. The team this year managed it with style. 

All design work for the book itself was undertaken by the students themselves with fantastic leadership from Bethany Preston (MA Publishing, Head of Design). Bethany developed both graphic and illustrative elements for the anthology over a number of months, leading to a beautifully coherent set of spreads as well as a striking cover design:

The development of page design elements for Save Our Seas!
The creative process to develop illustrations for Save Our Seas!
Working towards the impressive cover design for Save Our Seas!

Once all elements were in place, , the team liaised with the University of Plymouth Press to arrange printing and distribution. We now have stock ready to be posted and we hope that seeing their work in print will inspire the young people who have participated both to continue with their climate consciousness and to pursue their creative goals. 

Sample pages from Save Our Seas! fully edited, typeset and proofed

Lynda Cooper, Lecturer in Publishing commented on the work that went into Save Our Seas!

“This was a fantastic project to watch develop from initial concept through to delivery. I was particularly struck by how well the team adapted to the challenges of digital working – it was great to see them come up with a series of practical solutions in a calm and professional way. I absolutely love the design work too – it’s so appropriate for the theme and content, and I hope we can publicise the messages that the anthology contains in the months to come”.