Startling idea blooms into new GCU literary review

April 18, 2016 / by / 2 Comments

Some members of StartleBloom's editorial board also attend the WriteOn English content clinic.

A student takes notes during the WriteOn English content clinic.


Story by Laurie Merrill
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau

Grand Canyon University’s new literary review, StartleBloom, a sleek tome brimming with poetry, art and stories, is the culmination of four years of longing and one year of organizing and editing.

For the six seniors on the StartleBloom editorial board, the volume published last week is both swan song and legacy. It is, quite literally, a dream come true.

“We always dreamed of having a student publication to display our writing,” said Editor-in-Chief Luke Amargo, a senior English major with a design/entrepreneurial studies minor. “It’s an honor to be part of it, to have it tactile.”

StartleBloom was created by GCU students.

StartleBloom was created by GCU students.

The name, StartleBloom, is Amargo’s brain child and befits a publication that was once an elusive gleam in the eyes of GCU’s creative writers.

“It’s the idea that the creative process begins with a startling idea and blooms into something else,” said Associate Professor of English Dr. Diane Goodman, co-adviser of the literary review with Heather Brody, College of Humanities and Social Sciences full-time faculty.

“Or, you can decide what it means,” said Brody, who is also Friends of the Pen faculty adviser.

Designed and printed by GCU’s Marketing Department, the volume was published last week and was scheduled for distribution on campus Monday.

As Amargo ignited the spark that fanned into the Friends of the Pen student creative writing club in 2013, Goodman’s arrival in 2014 set off a chain of events resulting in StartleBloom’s publication two years later. Goodman’s background includes a Masters in Fine Arts in creative writing, three collections of short stories published by national presses, and poems and essays published in national magazines.

Luke Amargo, a senior, analyzing literature in a WriteOn content clinic. He is also StartleBloom's editor-in-chief.

Luke Amargo, a senior, analyzes literature in a WriteOn content clinic. He is also StartleBloom’s editor-in-chief.

“There’s a big student creative writing community at GCU,” said Goodman, who also designed and runs WriteOn, the English Department’s weekly Creative Writing Content Clinic. “For four years, they wanted a literary review. I said, ‘Let’s do it.’’’

First, Goodman and Brody interviewed and selected an editorial board, which consists of six seniors and one underclassman, Jessalyn Johnson, art editor. It was Johnson who designed the cover.

Amargo was named editor-in-chief, Hayley Richman and Vanessa Cooper co-managing editors, Ashlyn Tupper content editor, LaRisa Rowe assistant editor and Preston Eidsvoog senior reader.

“I want to emphasize that this was student driven,” Goodman said.

In fliers, a chapel slide, Stall Talk and GCU Today, students put out calls for literary submissions. They read every submission — anonymously with the names removed — and analyzed, deliberated and voted on them.

“They had more than 130 submissions from online and ground students,” Goodman said. About 40 made it into the book.


HSS faculty Heather Brody, left, and Dr. Diane Goodman share a light moment during a WriteOn clinic. They were also the advisers to StartleBloom.

At least one of every board member’s pieces was selected, including Amargo’s original poem, “Lilies of the Pond.” The piece also was presented anonymously during a recent WriteOn meeting.

That poem, and another called “Raw,” were a feast for WriteOn participants, who delighted in reading them, analyzing them, praising their brilliance and deconstructing them.

Lillies of the Pond begins:

“Smith, mighty man, built a boat | That he couldn’t understand | Named it a name of God in a tin Without a ‘C’, Lord, he pulled it in ─ Blind Willie Johnson’s “God Moves on the Water.

“You’re sunfed fireflies.
& everything/anything else the tadpoles in the rockstrewn pond are.”

“You have a stream of consciousness with a narrative,” said student Jacob Jarnagin. “You have a complex vernacular yet a simple rhyme scheme (with phrases like): ‘Headrush amongst the hush-hush.’’’

Amargo is proud of being an English major, but his design and entrepreneurial acumen recently garnered attention and success for a venture he began with some fellow students, Storage Together.

Last week, the Arizona Collegiate Venture Competition awarded $3,500 in seed money to Storage Together, an app that joins those who need storage with those who have space.

“Being an English major has given me the mental fortitude to think outside the box,” Amargo said. “I see things as stories and people as characters. It’s seeing the world in a lens.”

Contact Laurie Merrill at 602-639-6511 or


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2 Responses
  1. Elsie

    I want a copy.
    Can we buy it..

    Apr.18.2016 at 6:51 pm
  2. IRA

    So proud of you Luke! -luv, uncle ira and auntie irma! BTW, they forgot to mention your “game”.

    Apr.19.2016 at 4:06 pm
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