Oceanside sophomore designs magazine for student expression

By Beth A. Birmingham | May 23, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Oceanside High School sophomore Alexa Barstow has started a literary magazine.

Rockland — What began as a love of reading has turned into a passion for writing for one Oceanside High School student.

Sophomore Alexa Barstow said she was part of the school's newspaper her freshman year, but when it changed to being more focused on reported stories, she decided to put her writing skills to a different use.

"I still wanted to have a place for Oceanside students to share their art and writing," she said, so she designed "Psyche" (pronounced "sykee"), a literacy magazine.

Barstow, who has worked with the Skidompha Public Library in Damariscotta on its literary magazine, Epoch, said the formatting of Psyche is largely based on that. Epoch leader Kelsey Gibbs has been assisting her.

Barstow and a group of about 10 students meet to decide what will go into the magazine, and she reviews items for editing and content, and usually has her advisers read over everything as well.

"This year, since it’s new, we’re trying to get one copy out this spring, but next year we’ll be aiming for quarterly editions." she said.

Barstow said her love of reading started to change around third grade, when she started becoming interested in writing her own stories.

"Over the years, I’ve done multiple writing camps, which have helped me learn how to improve my work, and I’ve continued to read a lot as I’ve grown up," she said.

"I like writing short stories, because I think they allow me to focus more on 'artistic' writing, but when writing longer pieces, I like to write about magic and fantasy things," Barstow said.

She technically finished writing a few books in middle school, but since she felt they were so awful compared to what she has going now, she doesn't really count them.

"I’ve been working on a fantasy novel since last June, which I’m hoping to finish in the next two months," she said. "It’s definitely one of the longest things I’ve ever written."

Although she writes about a lot of different topics, she said she tends to write about “darker” things. "One of my more recent short stories, which will be in the first edition of Psyche, is about Death, as a character, in the body of a 15-year-old boy.

Barstow will be honored at the 2019 Maine Literary Awards June 13, sponsored by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. She is one of three student finalists in the fiction writing category of the Youth Competition.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

A current draft cover of the newly designed literary magazine Psyche at Oceanside High School. Sophomore Alexa Barstow has been developing the magazine. The word "psyche" comes from Greek and means "soul," which is often represented by the butterfly, according to Barstow. (Courtesy of: Alexa Barstow)
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