From Near Perfection to Near Extinction; Where Has PLR Gone?


Lindsay Piotter

This photo is featured in the newest edition of Prairie Light Review, which takes submissions from COD’s District 502.

Miguel Angel Contreras III, Staff Writer

The Prairie Light Review, COD’s art and literary magazine composed of District 502 submissions and student ran organization, will be unavailable for student course enrollment for the 2019 Spring Semester.

In December of 2018, The Prairie Light Review received the First Place Magazine Award from the American Scholastic Press Association for its Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 editions. It received this distinction in the category of community college with enrollment over 2500. The magazine was assessed for content coverage, organization, design, presentation, and creativity. It received 950 out of 1,000 points, with a perfect score in the design category. Additionally, PLR has earned the ASPA’s First Place Magazine distinction for the past four years.


According to PLR’s recently former adviser Trina Sotirakopulos, the literary magazine’s most recent success was brought about by what she considers to be outstanding quality of workmanship and dedication. Each semester the team who coordinates the magazine may change as enrollment fluctuates. Returning members are no guarantee. Nonetheless, the team who would come together each time surpassed her expectations. When asked what stood out the most about the team who put together the first place editions, Sotirakopulos cited the students’ prowess within their roles.


“Leadership and organization skills helped the student editors have timely packets for acquisitions, which allowed editors more time to review work. Talented eyes for detail made the issues look clean and sharp. Targeted writers groups and English classes contributed to the quality of submissions.”


Despite Sotirakopulos’s recurring success with the magazine, her time as its chief advisor has reached its conclusion. Sotirakopulos will be working with the new PLR adviser Adam Fotos on an effective transition of leadership. Sotirakopulos reflected on her time as PLR’s adviser, “While the role of adviser has been passed on to another talented faculty member, PLR is still a large part of my identity at COD. I hosted over eight launch parties, worked with students on nine different issues, watched writers emerge and flourish after publishing with us, and facilitated some of the most dedicated students on campus.” She continued say that, “I will miss PLR’s learning environment—the hands-on, collaborative community, and I am forever grateful that the college gave me the opportunity to serve.”


Fotos has been part-time faculty for eight years in COD’s Art and Graphic Design Departments and a full-time art lecturer at Chicago State University.  He has also published his own comics for the past 13 years under his imprint, Fotopia Press.

As an adviser, Fotos hopes to help cultivate students with his own skill set.

“Being the faculty adviser of The Prairie Light Review will allow me to work with students and nurture their skills in publishing with a very hands-on course that will have direct and practical applications in a variety of publishing and print-related fields,” he said.

However, the cultivation of students is unlikely when they’re absent altogether. “Unfortunately, PLR is not running this semester simply due to lack of enrollment at the beginning of the term,” Fotos said. “Smaller, unique classes such as PLR always run the risk of being under-enrolled. The sooner students enroll before the beginning of the term the greater the chances that the course will run.”

In response to the lack of a magazine for the spring semester Fotos is actively spreading awareness of PLR and networking throughout its supporting community,
“PLR is in a unique position as a student organization and as a class,” he said. “We have strong support from students previously involved in PLR as well as the community. This semester I will be reaching out to faculty from a variety of departments and visiting classes to promote PLR. I will also be working with Trina Sotirakopulos to make sure the course is more visible on course planning documents so students and advisors are more aware of how PLR fits into their course needs.”


No matter the uncertainty of how these efforts will affect student enrollment, Fotos is bolstered by his belief in the unique value The Prairie Light Review presents. He believes that, “PLR really is one of the hidden gems of the College of DuPage’s curriculum. Students can gain first-hand experience publishing an award-winning literary art magazine. Students receive submissions then select both literary and art entries. They lay out the selected submissions as a book and get to see their finished work in print. We even have three officer positions that get scholarships. So it is a great course that need not be so hidden.”


In the meantime, the Prairie Light Review will accept rolling submissions for consideration and potential acceptance for its 2019 Fall edition. Fotos also hopes that, through promoting the most recently published 2018 Fall edition of PLR and active volunteers, enough interest will be amassed to maintain the magazines usual semester activities.


The end of an era often invokes somber emotions and reminiscing thoughts for those who lived within it. Particularly so when the heights that it achieved were grand and the memories it created were even grander. Although PLR has been successful in the past, it must take a moment to reevaluate its status. For the magazine, that means taking a step back- for now.


Ronda Crawford is amongst those reflecting minds as a recurring PLR marketing editor for both first place editions, “The value of PLR lies in its capacity to hold space for creative talent. The ability to think and express ourselves creatively is one of the greatest gifts we can offer the world.” She believes, “It allows you to transform your academic experience as you move forward in life. Creative voices are powerful tools and it saddens me when no one hears them because those voices didn’t know they could be heard.”

Sotirakopulos echos similar sentiment, “My advice to students: try something different and challenge yourselves to use creativity to enhance your academic careers. The Prairie Light Review receives submissions from Pulitzer Prize nominees and poets who have published hundreds of poems, so District 502’s writers believe in PLR. COD students should support PLR too!”