Bob Dylan has inspired Minnesotans for decades. From building murals of his face in Minneapolis to a festival in Duluth in his honor, the famous Minnesotan is seen and referenced in nooks and crannies throughout the land of 10,000 lakes. Now, a new, if subtle, tribute to Dylan is available:
“Highway 61, Revised,” a play on his song titled “Highway 61 Revisited.”
“Highway 61, Revised” is a literature magazine created by the students of Minnesota State College Southeast, from both the Red Wing and Winona campuses -- which are connected by Highway 61.
Winter 2020 was the first publication of the journal. Pete Beurskens, the English instructor who was tasked with choosing which pieces to include in the debut journal, explained that a published book of student work had been a point of discussion for a couple of years among the college’s faculty.
“We’ve had a creative writing class for a number of years. And every time the class came to the end students asked me, ‘What’s next?’” explained Beurskens.
Until a couple of years ago Beurskens and other professors did not have another class to offer. Now, the school offers a 16 credit creative writing certificate. Students who take one or all of the creative writing classes are eligible to be published in the journal.
Professors choose the best pieces from their classes and give them to the faculty member who selects the final pieces for the year’s magazine. This year is Beurskens' turn because, as MSC Southeast’s communication director and writing student Katryn Conlin explained, the magazine is Beurskens’ brainchild.
The final product is 99 pages with a binding and a gloss cover; a book that looks like an authentic lit journal.
“I’ve taught at three year colleges where it’s basically three staples in the middle,” said Beurskens with a chuckle when comparing MSC Southeast’s final product to other journal projects of which he has been a part.
While the cover is nice and presents well, it is the writing within that makes this book impressive.
Fourteen students are featured in the book and they are all clearly talented writers. From poems about nature to an essay about wheeling around Wausau, Wis., in a wheelchair to a fiction piece written from multiple points of view, the book is more than a worthy read.
About half of the authors in the journal have more than one piece included. Beurskens explained that this was because these students had a variety of strong pieces and because he wanted to highlight the strength of students' writing across genres.
Conlin is one of the students who appears in the journal more than once (she has six pieces, a combination of fiction, poetry and a memoir).
“It's very gratifying and humbling to see some of what I worked on included in the journal,” Conlin said.
Beurskens explained that the goal is to publish the journal annually in the autumn.
For now though, Beurskens and the creative writing students are enjoying the first issue of “Highway 61, Revised.”
The students published in the journal and those who participate in MSC Southeast’s creative writing classes come from numerous locations, from the Twin Cities to Winona and beyond. This coming together of people from different communities is perfectly described in the journal and its title.
“They’re from all walks of life,” said Beurskens. “And from up and down the river.”
A celebration for the first publication of "Highways 61, Revised," will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, at Fair Trade Books in Red Wing. This public event will include readings from the journal.