Penn State DuBois faculty member teams with journal, champions regional authors

Associate Professor of English Tony Vallone

Associate Professor of English Tony Vallone has been tapped to serve on the board of directors for The Watershed Journal, as well as the The Watershed Literary Group.

Credit: Penn State

DUBOIS, Pa. — For more than three decades, Penn State DuBois Associate Professor of English Tony Vallone has shared his passion for literature, poetry, and all forms of writing. He has inspired many to pursue their own careers in literary arts and has even helped both students and non-students get their work published through his own publishing company, MAMMOTH Books. Now, Vallone is impacting an even greater number of aspiring writers by lending his expertise to The Watershed Journal as a member of its board of directors. 

Based in Brookville, Pennsylvania, The Watershed Journal is a project founded and managed by Jessica Weible and Sarah Rossey. Their mission is to provide an outlet for individuals throughout the Northwestern Pennsylvania region to have their work published. Released quarterly, the publication not only welcomes all forms of literary work, but also accepts submissions of local photography.

“We really accept a broad range of storytelling,” said Weible, a former English teacher who serves as executive editor of the journal. “Photography, visual arts, poetry, all types of writing including flash fiction, journalism, and short stories. Being all-inclusive is a big part of our mission. We want to include as many people as we can.”

By remaining inclusive, Rossey and Weible have filled a need previously unmet in the region, providing local artists an outlet through which they can share their voices.

“There isn’t a lot of representation for the arts here in this region,” Weible said, noting that she relocated to the area from the more suburban landscape of Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, where she was also a freelance writer for newspapers. “We started the journal because there just wasn’t much opportunity for local writers to be published.”

Weible and Rossey first met at the Brookville Library, where both had children involved in youth programming. The pair quickly formed a friendship bonded by a shared love for writing, and the idea of a local publication was born.

Rossey, who holds a degree in philosophy and a minor in English, also freelanced for newspapers in the past. She recalled, “Jess started a writer’s group in 2017 and approached the group about doing a publication because it was tough getting published. The game of publishing is always changing and it’s tough to keep up with it. So, she pitched the idea and the group showed interest. Our first issue came out in June of 2018.”

Since their start, The Watershed Journal has enjoyed rapid and almost overwhelming growth.  Their initial writer’s group had only five members, and today the journal boasts around 40 contributors to its latest edition, according to Rossey, who maintains the journal’s website and works as managing editor.

Vallone said the opportunities the journal provides for those who may not otherwise see their work published got him excited about getting involved. He shared, “There’s always been a philanthropic piece to publishing for me, and these two women see it the same way. They’re so enthusiastic about it, so I was very interested in working with them.”

Equally important, Vallone said, is making the work of local artists available for the public to enjoy. “So much of what people are doing locally is really good,” Vallone said. “I want to see these people take advantage of getting published in the journal, and hopefully some of them can take it even further.”

The Watershed group has plans to take their own work further already, by moving into publishing books. They’re accepting submissions from local authors online through April 1, and have invited Vallone to serve on The Watershed Literary Group, helping to choose the first manuscript for publication. 

“We’ll bring out a couple of small books a year, focusing on writers from the region and smaller communities where there aren’t many resources for this,” Vallone said. “I hope we can get people from the campus involved.”

In addition to Vallone, Philip Terman, a professor of English at Clarion University, is collaborating on the book project. Terman said, “Watershed Journal is beneficial by providing a forum to publish regional writers and artists. They offer workshops and gatherings that educate regional writers of all ages. It’s an invaluable asset to the region.

"The journal offers opportunities for publishing and promoting their work, building their confidence as writers, and helping greatly in the cultural life of our region.”

Terman has been an educator for 28 years and, like Vallone, is a published poet with five books of poetry to his credit. Combined, the two professors have brought almost immeasurable experience to the Watershed team, helping to make it possible for the journal to expand their efforts into books.

Weible said, “Without Tony and Phil, I’m not sure we would have had the wherewithal or confidence to move forward.”

Rossey added, “They have a passion specifically for regional authorship. They’ve been in publishing a long time. It’s so great to have this expertise.”

This expertise, Rossey noted, will not only provide a voice for Northwestern, Pennsylvania, but help to shine a new light on the region.

“There can be a lot of different ways the region is portrayed," she explained. "We get to present a more realistic version of what life and people here are really like. We get to present something more real.”