Professor Carolyn Smart leaves powerful legacy at Queen’s with Lake Effect 10 – Queen’s Journal

Editor’s Note: One member of The Journal’s Editorial Board has contributed to the Lake Effect 10 anthology.

Professor Carolyn Smart has been nationally recognized as an incredible writer and editor, but for hopeful creative writing students at Queen’s, she has been the ultimate mentor.  

Smart has dedicated her career to fostering the development of emerging writers, founding the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, and teaching Creative Writing at the University since 1989. Twenty years ago, she started the Lake Effect project: a bi-annual publication which showcases the work of advanced Creative Writing students at Queen’s. 

“More than 20 years ago, when I was first teaching Advanced Creative Writing, I realized some students were probably going to publish books. They were so talented,” Smart told The Journal. 

“I wanted to have their early work recognized in this form.”

The anthology is a collection of poetry and short stories by the 12 students in CWRI 496, with some students choosing to put forth both genres of their work. 

“Every writer’s individual style shines in Lake Effect,” Smart said. “The styles are varied and damned exciting.”

The original Lake Effect came to fruition when Smart collaborated with Laurie Lewis, the publisher of Artful Codger Press in Kingston, to create the first edition. 

“Laurie and her press were the publishers of the first five volumes of Lake Effect,” Smart said. “One of the original members of Lake Effect is now the publisher for the second five volumes; her name is Christina Decarie, and she runs Upstart Press with her husband.”

Decarie’s husband, DJ Berger, has been the designer of all posters for Creative Writing events at Queen’s for the last five years. He’s also designed the imaginative cover art for Lake Effect 10. 

Smart described the process of editing the anthology, which is a combination of peer editing and final proofreading.

“I asked each student to pair with another student within the class and do some initial editing,” Smart said. “The final decisions come to me at the end, and I go through for proofreading and editing.”

A book launch for the anthology will take place virtually on April 8 at 7 p.m. as a Zoom webinar. Students featured in the book will have the opportunity to read their pieces aloud and talk about their inspirations and writing style.

Though Creative Writing students have been unable to interact in person and experience the intimate seminar feel of the classes, Smart maintained the upcoming publication has been a real bonding experience. 

“I think it’s a high point for the students because it really bonds the group in promotion and publicity,” Smart said.

“Even though this year it won’t be in person, there’s a surge of excitement that will be palpable during the launch.”

The 10th edition of Lake Effect also marks the end of Smart’s teaching career at Queen’s. 

“After 32 years, it’s time for me to move on,” Smart said. “I’m starting my own editing and mentoring project where I will hopefully continue to work with emerging writers. I encourage all my former students to be in contact with me.”

Smart described her pride for the anthology as the final chapter in her time at the University. 

“It feels remarkable as a milestone for me after all these years,” Smart said. “I’ve seen many students go on to be professional writers, and to have their early work published is incredible.”