Spires is the Massachusetts College of Liberal Art’s student literary and arts journal. This version of the literary journal began publishing in 2001 and just recently published their twenty-third edition. The magazine, however, has a much longer history at the college. From 1967 until 2001, it had been consistently published at least once an academic year under the name Kaleidoscope. The name change did not affect the quality or the style of the magazine but was done to separate it from other publications in the field. As the first issue of the Spires mentioned, “after consulting with Barry Sternlieb of Mad River Press, we found out that Kaleidoscope was a very common name among literary magazines nationwide. Feeling that it was important to show our distinction from all the others, we sought a name that would better reflect our school and the area it is located in.” Both versions of this student-run, faculty-supported magazine seek to share student work, both academic and personal, on campus and with the greater North Adams community.
The first issue of Kaleidoscope as the “campus literary magazine of North Adams State College” was published by students, with help from Professor Robert R. Wheeler of the English Department, in November of 1967. The magazine was then published twice a semester, or around four times per academic year, until 1970. It is unknown exactly why the staff decreased publication down to once an academic year after 1970, but one could guess that it had to do with availability of resources (ie. money and time) or lack of submissions. Nevertheless, the ever-changing Kaleidoscope staff and editors continued publishing the magazine each spring semester.
The Kaleidoscope staff accepted and “greatly appreciate[ed] any faculty and staff submissions of literary, photographic, and/or artistic works for its publication,” in addition to student submissions. To the staff, “poems, short stories, photographs, and ink drawings [were] all welcome contributions.” The staff of today’s Spires magazine continues the tradition of accepting these types of submissions, while also expanding the magazine’s repertoire to include digital artwork and collages. Spires’ staff also maintains the tradition of not establishing a specific theme for each publication, although the staff do admit that “a trend almost always emerges when all the work is read through and organized.” Additionally, issues of Spires from 2012-2023 were digitized and can be accessed at their website, www.mclaspires.com/.
Although each publication of Spires or Kaleidoscope is unique, all issues of the journal are meant to share MCLA student art with the world. As editors of the Kaleidoscope magazine stated in 1979, this literary journal is “put together by people who are like you, with material written drawn and photographed by people who are like you; they share more than rooms 208 or 101…they share with you the common bond between all people—the bond of humanity.”