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Pioneer Pen gives students an artistic outlet

Last updated on March 9, 2019

By Erin Holloway

“The Pioneer Pen prints any art forms from poetry to short stories, memoirs, photography, videos, cartoons, and songs,” said Laura McClister, faculty advisor and chair of the English department.

The Pioneer Pen has been Volunteer State Community College since 1995, known as “Squatter’s Rites,” before the name was changed, and every year they print a new issue.

The Pioneers Pen makes its yearly issues from art submitted by Vol State students through the school’s website. To submit, go to, go to “Academics,” click on “English” and “Publication,” then you sign a Creative Works waiver where you give Vol State permission to print your work while you still own it.  Then, you leave your name, email address and title of your work(s).

For those who want to submit artwork for this year’s issue, the deadline will be March 1.

Pioneer Pen’s faculty advisor and publication coordinator Emily Andrews said that this gives student’s an “artistic outlet and recognition,” also noting that it gives them a “good sense of confidence and pride,” with their work being displayed.

For the artwork that is shown in each issue, it is picked by the students working with the Pioneer Pen.

The faculty advisors remove the name of the artists and the title of the artwork for an unbiased opinion, and they vote for what pieces get printed.

For the students who work with the Pioneer Pen, “We get the experience, learn teamwork, how to work with different personalities, and make them blend for any collaboration,” said Amber Kittrell, an editor and writer who had work printed in Pioneer Pen’s 2018 issue.

The 2018 issue won a first-place award from the American Scholastic Press Association for best college literary magazine.

Last year, McClister and Andrews were also invited to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference due to their success running the Pen.

They also do internships every spring for students who want the experience, or they can enroll in the ENGL 290P English Practicum course for credit hours.

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