Sophomore founds literary magazine

Elaine Zhou, Staff Writer

When it comes to writing, few are as passionate as Naperville Central sophomore Michael Liu. 

Liu has written various literary pieces ranging from poetry, to short stories and other creative writings. His accomplishments include the Gold Key regional award from The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and being published by The Daphne Review. 

“I started writing in fourth grade when my teacher told me to write a poem about eagles,” Liu said. “It was a really bad poem, but he told me it was really good and having that gratification motivated me.”

Liu’s passion for writing enabled him to enroll in a writing workshop, the Sewanee Young Writer’s Conference, held at University of the South in Sewanee, TN,  during the summer of 2022. There, Liu became close with a group of friends including Tane Kim, a sophomore attending Irvington High School in Irvington, NY. 

“[Kim] was my best friend there,” Liu said. “After the program ended, I remember I really wanted to start something with some people I knew. I realized that it could be an opportunity not just for us to build something, but for me and Tane to reconnect with all [the] people we were friends with.”

This connection inspired Liu and Kim to start a youth literary magazine. 

“[Liu] texted me saying ‘Hey, Tane, do you want to make a literary magazine together?’ and I said sure,” Kim said. 

Liu also reached out to Kim because of his prior experience with running another Literary Magazine, The Incandescent Review. 

“While I was working [at The Incandescent review], I kind of wanted to start my own thing as well [and] to branch out a little bit,” Kim said. “So obviously, I accepted [Liu’s] offer.”

Together, Liu and Kim worked to launch The Stirling Review. Kim designed the website while Liu mainly created social media accounts to promote the project. To recruit more team members, they sent out invitations to others who also participated in the writing program.

“The most talented writers we knew were our friends from Sewanee,” Kim said. “Pretty soon, we formed a solid team of people who were all interested.”

The Stirling Review publishes both writing and art pieces. Written submissions may include poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction and opinion pieces. 

Liu expressed that magazines run by students can provide a sense of community that larger magazines cannot due to the difference in the number of submissions. 

“I [want] to be this magazine where [people] can submit and we actually give them feedback,” Liu said. “We’ll establish this community where people feel safe to develop as a writer or as an artist.”

The name and values of The Stirling Review stem from Liu’s own experience with a quaint coffee shop in Sewanee called Stirling’s Coffee House. 

“It was cool having this place that was always available where you could meet other writers and make new friends,” Liu said. “I had fun in Stirling’s Coffee House. I felt really comfortable there, especially sharing my writing, which I’m not always comfortable with.”

Liu and his team at The Stirling Review strive to create a safe space for writers in a way similar to the coffee house. 

“We encourage unpublished young writers to submit,” Kim said. “We want to be an avenue — or a voice — for these young writers, who might have not necessarily gained exposure in the writing world, to be amplified and for their voice to be able to shine.”

Currently, The Stirling Review is receiving submissions for its first online issue. Their goal in the future is to print the issues as well. 

The submission deadline is Feb. 15, 2023. All writing and art pieces are accepted at