About Us

Black Rock & Sage is a journal of creative works published annually through the Department of English and Philosophy of Idaho State University with assistance from the Art and Music Departments. The senior and assistant editors are ISU graduate and undergraduate students with interests in creative writing, professional writing, journalism, and teaching. All artistic contributions, from design to literature to music, have been produced by graduate and undergraduate students in departments from across the university. General submissions are received from September through February 14.

Editor-in-Chief: Anelise Farris–Anelise is an English PhD student—specializing in disability studies, literature of the fantastic, and new media. When not studying or teaching, she enjoys yoga, experimenting with vegan cooking, playing with her fur babies, traveling the world, and watching way too many (if that’s a thing) horror movies.

Prose Editor: Christopher Swenson–Chris is a graduate of Idaho State University. As a student of English literature, he hopes one day to devour all things worth reading. Prior to becoming a senior editor for Black Rock & Sage, two of his short stories appeared in the 2016 issue of our magazine, including one that won the annual editor-nominated Prose Award.

Poetry Editor: Richard Thornell–Richard is currently seeking a BA in English Literature with a concentration in creative writing at ISU. He also has a deep interest in film and music. Among the number of places he has lived, Oahu, Hawaii, and Landstuhl, Germany, were his favorite.

Faculty Advisor: Susan Goslee–Associate Professor of English at Idaho State University.


The Last Stop Before the Desert

While Black Rock & Sage is the current iteration of ISU’s literary journal, it is not the first. The literary scene in Pocatello, and certainly on ISU’s campus, has been vibrant since the school’s inception. A number of literary publications have emanated from and been affiliated with the Department of English and Philosophy over the years.

While the student-run newspaper The Bengal was the primary venue for creative output during the Idaho State College and Southern branch days, ISU’s creative publishing history basically began with The Last Stop Before the Desert, a publication which attempted to capture the unique voice and perspective of writers of the high desert plateau during the 70s and early 80s.

LSBD lapsed during the financially strapped (a phrase all too familiar in the context of literary journals) late 1980s, and its production was discontinued at a departmental level.


In the early 1990s, students and faculty within the department essentially lobbied for and created a replacement publication named Ethos. Ethos was advised by volunteer English department faculty, but was funded by a painstaking process of petitioning funds from the ASISU senate. Ethos published both student writing as well as a number of unsolicited manuscripts sent in as the result of a Writer’s Market listing.


Ethos directly transitioned into Black Rock & Sage in 2002 under the stewardship of its first faculty editor, poet Michael Sowder. During its initial years, BR&S published a range of texts both solicited and unsolicited, from students and established writers.

Changes were made to the mission of BR&S under the supervision of poet Susan Goslee, who shifted the nature of the publication to one that reflects the editorial input and creative output of ISU students exclusively. Since that initial decision, the magazine has expanded to include texts from many disciplines on campus, including art, music, history, sociology, and others. Recently, BR&S has begun printing full-color pages and coordinating a wider variety of public events, as well as creating a companion class to the publication.