Gannon University’s literary arts publication, Totem, has once again won the 2014 National Program Directors’ Prize in the Design Category from the Association of Writers and Writing Program (AWP). This is the second time in two years Totem has received this award.

The deadline for submissions of this award is in March, before Totem’s release date, so the previous year’s issue is submitted, according to Berwyn Moore, an English professor at Gannon and adviser to the Totem. The award went to the 2013 issue, the edition with the knot binding, edited by Christine Peffer and Dan Kubiak. This award comes with a cash prize of $1,000.

The AWP chooses only two undergraduate literary magazines in the U.S. to win prizes in this contest, one for content and one for design, said Moore. She also said the AWP is the umbrella organization for all the college and university writing programs in the U.S., which makes this win even more special.

“To win this prize is very prestigious,” Moore said. “[And] is a true testament to the quality of Totem.”

Maureen Lauran, a professor from George Mason University’s graphic design program, was the judge. She said she chose the Totem because “it is an outstanding example of meaningful, consistent and appropriate use of typography” and “with the unique manner chosen to separate and index the parts of the journal — that is, prose, art, poetry — the topics were available singularly and still remained a part of the whole. Each element is bound together with a cover that enclosed the entirety.”

This award is in addition to Totem receiving the American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) award, where Totem earned a first-place award every year for the past 18 years, according to Moore. Many of these years it was awarded First Place with Special Merit.

Within the past few years, Totem has been recognized in additional ways that are not listed as regular categories. Totem has won for “Best Undergraduate Literary Magazine” and “Best Division Pages.”

The ASPA awards deadline is in June and Totem will sumit the most current issue.

Moore said it is truly an honor to have won so many consecutive first-place awards, as well as to have won in newly designated categories.

Peffer said she had completely forgotten about Totem being up for the award.

“We had already heard from the ASPA about winning back in the fall, which I was ecstatic about, so this came as something of a shock,” she said. “A great shock, of course.”

She also said it’s rewarding to get recognized because of the intense amount of work that went into creating the 2013 Totem.

“Totem took a long time to assemble because of the type of binding we decided to go with,” Peffer said. “We spent a lot of hours as a staff helping the [Gannon] Press put them together.

“Going through that process in itself was really rewarding because we got to see all the hard work that actually goes into the hands-on aspect of publication.

“It gave me a greater appreciation for the entire process.”

Moore said she is “very grateful to the staff for their hard work, creative energy and dedication” and will submit the newest edition, edited by Siobhan Brown, a senior English and education major, and Rachael Bucey, a junior nursing major, to ASPA in June and to AWP in March 2015.

Peffer said she thinks the newest edition is “absolutely beautiful” and while it was weird not being a part of the process, she believes it clearly represents the quality of Totem.

“This year’s staff did a great job of keeping up the tradition of making Totem a complete aesthetic piece, inside and out,” Peffer said.

“I am confident their edition will be a strong contender for this award next spring.”

This article by Sammie Janik was originally published in The Gannon Knight on Apr. 30, 2014.