The Templeman Review: A new student-led literary magazine at the University of Kent

By Petr Malásek

20th April 2021

Like many others, my first contact with The Templeman Review was on Instagram. The only information I knew about it was available on its website: ‘an online literary magazine run by students at the University of Kent.’ Before their first issue, I, as an English Literature and Creative Writing student at UKC, received a follow from them. I decided to send one of my poems to the second issue and it got published, but it was the anonymous email signed off ‘TE’ (which I read as an abbreviation to The Editor) that piqued my interest.

I was fortunate enough to interview the editor and be ‘the fourth person, the first one at Kent’ to find out their identity. After asking what the reason for anonymity was, the editor said “I was kinda worried that the people that I knew wouldn’t be as inclined to submit their work, as I know a lot of the contributors personally.” They continued by saying that they did not expect so many people to submit their work, as the editor thought that the project would fail due to a lack of submissions. In the ‘Letter from the Editor’ in the first issue of TTR, they stated that the reason for staying anonymous was to ‘avoid the excruciating embarrassment that would arise from being outed as someone who is involved in publishing an obscure literary magazine, especially one as poorly formatted as this.’ When I asked them about this, the editor said: “This was literally just a website that I’ve written and an Instagram page with like fifty followers at the time, so I didn’t want to attach my name to it.”

When I asked how they would introduce the Review, they replied that it is “an online literary magazine run by somebody vaguely incompetent at the University of Kent that accepts submissions from everyone but is mainly interested from work of Kent undergraduates.” This sort of humbleness is evident in the whole existence of this literary project. In the ‘Letter of the Editor’ of the first issue, they write: ‘We are acutely aware that it’s not easy to trust a group of unproven hacks with your carefully written sentences and stanzas.’ The main reasons for starting The Templeman Review were personal. “I wanted somewhere to put my own work. I was writing some pretty terrible essays and poems,” the editor laughed. The Templeman Review has, in its last two issues, published prose, poetry and literary essays.

This is the aspect that really makes the paper unique. It is an independent project, created by and for undergraduate students at UKC. As the paper states on its website: ‘The Templeman Review accepts submissions from everyone, including non-students and people unaffiliated with the University of Kent. However, please be aware that the work of Kent undergraduates will usually take priority.’ There is no link to the Creative Writing Society or to The School of English. It is a stand-alone project mainly seeking voices from the crowd of Kent undergraduates.

The editor also mentioned that by creating The Templeman Review, they wanted to create a space for everyone to easily publish their work and not go through strict guidelines that literary magazines impose, which the editor experienced when trying to get their work published: “You had to jump through so many hoops like formatting, references… Letters had to be a certain font, size… It would be a dream to email them a Word document and have them copy and paste it into a magazine.” On the TTR website, they state: ‘We offer no guidelines concerning length or style and don’t worry too much about formatting or references.’ The paper is only concerned about the quality of the pieces that are sent.

The pieces that inside do not follow a theme, topic or style. The editor laughed: “As long as it’s coherent it’s gonna get in,” and continued: “but I do exercise some editorial standards.” From unrhymed sonnets to 22-pages long short story and literary essays analysing Dickens’ work on one page and the connection between Aesthetics and the Contemporary on the other. Kent students are identifiable there, as their name comes with a college affiliation. Others, from outside of the University, just get the word ‘unmatriculated’ attached. “We do get a lot of submissions outside of the University of Kent,” the editor said, most notably three people from India who were not students at the University. One of them, Shivapriya Soorianarayanan, got one of her poems titled ‘Chaos, Unabashed’ published in the very first issue of the Review. She, a content specialist from India, got to know the magazine after attending an event for writers created by the UKC’s School of English – and the magazine’s Instagram page popped up as a suggested account.

The editor enjoys reading and cherry-picking pieces, in most cases trying to set similar standards as the well-known papers: “I mostly pretend that I’m the editor of a much better paper and trying to choose what the editor of The Paris Review of The New Yorker would pick.” The editor called their job enjoyable and said that some of the poems are excellent. That, also with the fact that it does not take them much of their time, are reasons why they want to continue working on this project.

The Templeman Review is the first student-led literary magazine at the University, but it is not the only place for people to send their creative pieces. One of them, DATABLEED Magazine, is co-edited by Dr Eleanor Perry, a lecturer in Creative Writing at UKC. She believes that papers such as The Templeman Review “offer students a creative outlet and a means to build confidence in their work and in sending that work out to be read in the world.” She also thinks that such projects give spaces to new and original voices in the literary world: “Student-led literary magazines run counter to the idea that only firmly established work is worthy of publication.”

The Templeman Review only exists online in written form. However, things may change in the future and it is on the contributors and the editorial team to continue working on this student-led literary project and enrich its audience with more art.

Images courtesy of The Templeman Review.

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