A photo of the Blackbird jounal online homepage.
The new website for the Blackbird literary journal will support more visual art and audio and video projects and help to create space for a conversation between text and visual art.

VCU online literary journal Blackbird launches new website and publishing schedule

Digital redesign will highlight writing, visual art and audio/video – with improved search and accessibility – for four issues annually.

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Blackbird, the online literary journal edited by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of English, launched a new website and announced a new publishing schedule Jan. 24. 

The user-friendly website, blackbird.vcu.edu, features a minimalistic framework with decorative elements that reference the natural landscape of Richmond, and it will support more visual art and audio and video projects. It was designed by Red Orange Studio, a Richmond-based design agency. 

“We wanted a new design that honored the tradition of the journal,” said English professor and faculty editor Kathy Graber. “The founding editors built Blackbird with a rock-solid foundation and set a high bar. They were meticulous in the presentation and the selection of the quality of writing. This new website will be more fully compatible with current technologies and will also be more conveniently searchable by readers. It will also be fully compliant with current requirements for visitors to the site who may have auditory or visual challenges.”

The new design also provides a greater showcase for the visual arts. The inaugural issue features Cesar Piedra, an interdisciplinary artist who explores the rich history of the Mesoamerican and Mexican-American cultures.

“With the new design, we can foreground our featured visual artists in each issue. This creates space for a conversation between text and visual art, and an aesthetic that shifts with each Flight,” said assistant English professor and faculty editor Jessica Hendry Nelson.  

The website contains a link to the Founders’ Archive, which will house all previous issues of Blackbird. The site is hosted by VCU Libraries, which provided support with ADA compliance and web troubleshooting during the redesign process.

With the new publication schedule, Blackbird will produce four issues a year, two of which will be themed issues. The previous publication schedule included two issues (fall and spring). Now called Flights, the new issues will be shorter than previous editions, though with the same amount of content spread over the year. 

Blackbird was founded in 2001 as a joint venture of the VCU Department of English and New Virginia Review Inc. Over the years, Blackbird has featured the work of Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, including poems by Tomas Tranströmer and Philip Levine. In 2006, Blackbird made international news when it featured a previously unpublished poem by poet Sylvia Plath.

Funding for the website redesign project came from VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences and Friends of Blackbird, a group of donors and alumni of the journal.

For more information, please contact faculty editors Kathy Graber at kjgraber@vcu.edu or Jessica Hendry Nelson at nelsonjh3@vcu.edu.