New Stanford student magazine offers eclectic mix of literary and artistic work

A group of Stanford undergrads has successfully released the third issue of a new magazine, The Claw. In its second year, the publication has evolved into a mix of serious reporting, satire and thoughtful commentary.


Cover of The Claw

The current issue of The Claw includes an article on Bosnia and a photo essay about gardening on The Farm.

The Claw, Stanford's newest student magazine, released its third issue this spring. The publication is now in its second year and has become a showcase for students' literary and artistic work.

"As an economics major, I don't have any other opportunity to write whimsical essays that are going to get published," says co-editor-in-chief Alice Nam. "Having a magazine like this is a chance to keep that hobby alive."

A group of Stanford undergraduates published the first issue of The Claw in February 2009, led by editor-in-chief Anjali Albuquerque, a political science major. The magazine was originally intended to be a graphic-novel-type publication, then a foreign policy and investigative journalism magazine, but it has morphed into a 44-page glossy, eclectic mix of student works.

"There's such a variety – some people go straight to the cartoons or 'Talk of the Quad,' or they want to read about Bosnia," said senior art editor Claire Lorentzen, a public policy major. "There is something in there for everyone."

The magazine features serious investigative journalism, humorous pieces, fiction, poetry, cartoons and more. The "Primary Sources" section contains first-person interviews and original historical documents, while "Talk of the Quad" holds sometimes satirical opinion pieces about university issues and modern culture. There are also personal essays, such as this issue's "CoverGirl Doesn't Cover Boys," about a young man's induction into drag queen culture:

Anthony asks to see my foundation. … He holds the bottle to my arm and raises his eyebrow, silently admonishing me for buying foundation that does not match my skin. He systematically destroys … essentially my entire makeup collection. He alternates between giving me looks of scorn and throwing his head back in laughter. I ask him if I should throw it all away now, but he says no. "You'll want to look back one day and see how far you've come."

The magazine takes its name from White Memorial Fountain, nicknamed "The Claw," as a symbol of the "ebb and flow" of Stanford students and their ideas. The fountain on White Plaza has become a student gathering place where free exchange of diverse opinions takes place. In the same way, the magazine is intended to bring talented students together to produce a work for all students to enjoy.

Editors take submissions from Stanford students, staff, faculty and alumni, and put each piece through rigorous editing. The magazine staff holds weekly office hours to meet potential writers, discuss and edit pieces, and plan the magazine's layout.

The Claw provides an opportunity for students of all majors to get writing and editing experience. In fact, the experience led Lorentzen to a job at Sojourners magazine in Washington, D.C., after she graduates this spring.

"I'm going to be an online editor and copyeditor," said Lorentzen. "The Claw definitely helped me get the job."

Students can get the printed magazine delivered to their door for free by signing up on the website, or they can find free issues in Old Union and in residence halls.

The staff hopes to get off-campus subscribers through its website to help support printing costs. The ASSU Publications Board and The Stanford Fund provide the bulk of the funding for now.

The new website also has a blog and a column section that the staff hope to continuously update online to keep a steady stream of viewers. Lorentzen also is working to make the website a place to showcase student artwork in color and possibly attract new art students to Stanford.

"It's a space where prospective students can see what kind of art Stanford students are doing," said Lorentzen. "There are a lot of great artists that aren't presenting their work in public."

The current team, most of whom will graduate by 2011, is now thinking about how to ensure the magazine's longevity.

"This year has been about making the magazine run smoothly and defining the layout," said co-editor-in-chief Max McClure, a biology and English major. "We haven't done as much outreach to younger students but that's definitely going to have to be a focus next year."

"Once it's known that people can submit to The Claw and get published, it will establish us more as a magazine," said senior writing editor Charlie Mintz, a communication major.

Gwyneth Dickey is an intern in the Stanford News Service.