Tag Archives: sparks

Sparks Literary Magazine

Sparks, a literary magazine, was the first student publication at St. John’s College, Brooklyn. It began when students from the Sparks Literary Society began writing class pamphlets. Upon the success of this pamphlet and encouragement from their faculty advisor, Father McCormick, they began the Sparks literary magazine. The two earliest issues in existence were handwritten, while the four later issues were printed.

This magazine provides insight into the academic lives and extra-curricular activities of the earliest students of St. John’s, from their compositions and poetry, to their athletic pursuits. Also included are some of the earliest photographs in the history of St. John’s.

In addition to editing this early publication, the society dedicated themselves to the study of elocution, composition, and debate. The name Sparks was derived from “the fact that the pamphlet contained little offshoots from the flame of knowledge then so fervent and bright in the minds of many of their class.” By 1897, Sparks Literary Society had raised enough funds for a furnished meeting and reading room and small library. The society had their own song, which is shown above in the 1897 issue.

View digitized images of Sparks.

Exhibition: Sparks and Sequoya: A Long Tradition of Student Literary Publications

January 14 , 2013 – February 12, 2013
St. Augustine Hall, 3rd Floor

sparks and sequoyaSparks was the oldest literary magazine at St. John’s, which ran for only a short time, from 1891-1897. It was formed when students from the Sparks Literary Society began writing class pamphlets. Upon the success of this pamphlet and encouragement from their faculty advisor, Father McCormick, they began the Sparks literary magazine. The earliest issues were handwritten, while later issues were printed. In addition to editing this early publication, the society dedicated themselves to the study of elocution, composition, and debate. The name Sparks was derived from “the fact that the pamphlet contained little offshoots from the flame of knowledge then so fervent and bright in the minds of many of their class.” By 1897, Sparks Literary Society had raised enough funds for a furnished meeting and reading room and small library.

Sequoya is the second-oldest and longest-running student-published literary magazine at St. John’s University. It was first published in April 1934, at the original St. John’s College campus in Brooklyn. The magazine’s purpose was “to be a free and clear avenue for literary expression”. The magazines featured fiction, poetry, essays, reviews and art, including photography. Over the years, the name of the publication switched between Sequoya and Sequoya Quarterly, and later Sequoya Literary Magazine and Sequoya Literary and Arts Magazine.

Copies of Sparks and Sequoya are housed in the University Archives and are available for research. Please call (718) 990-1465 or email archives@stjohns.edu to make an appointment.