J.Magazine, the student-run literary arts magazine, is published biannually and features student prose, poetry and art. On Wednesday Nov. 29, the magazine held a reading of a variety of works that will be published in its Fall 2017 issue. The authors had the chance to showcase their writing at Bird in Hand.
During the event, four students read out some of their poetry and one student read out a selected prose piece entitled “Kirby Hampton and my grandmother.” Ranging from a sonnet dedicated to the poet’s younger brother to a prose piece about the author’s grandmother and a fleeting ex-fiancée, the authors showcased a wide array of artistic talent.
Sophomore Alicia Badea was the first to read. She read a total of four poems, entitled, “one am trip around the neighborhood,” “As A Woman,” “Sonnet to My Brother” and “why i do not wish to speak, but smile.” Her most moving piece was her sonnet, which she told the audience was dedicated to her younger brother.
Freshman Kelechi Nwankwoala spoke next, performing three poems entitled “Kids Jump in Headfirst,” “And Who Shall Inherit the Earth? (Is There a Heaven for a G?)” and “The Oedipus Complex Applied to Heavenly Father,” respectively.
His first poem described the ease with which children love and is a “love poem about the ability to love” as he put it. Nwankwoala captures the idea of jumping in literally and metaphorically through his symbolism of a lake, which recurs throughout the poem, and the repeated line “This is how much love a lake has […].”
The second poem took on more of a powerful, political tone. Nwankwoala described it as being about three things. “A contemplation of our heroes’ innocence, a prayer for heavenly reparations and a reconsideration of what the afterlife could be,” he said.
This poem was very much meant to be read aloud and, with each of the stanzas written as one enjambed sentence, there was something relentless about the constant flow and beating of the words it contained.
The theme of struggling with the notion of heaven and God continued in his final poem, this time through Freud’s Oedipus complex and an exploration of his own “oscillating between anger and love for [his] father.”
Fellow freshman Carmen Jung then read her poem “Suburbia” — a poem with some beautiful images that are perhaps better suited to being read by the individual than aloud due to her very specific form.
There was then a brief departure from the poetry of the evening for the reading of a selected prose piece. Senior Sydney Lerner, the author, was unfortunately absent, which undoubtedly had an effect on the poignancy of the piece.
The story, an imagining of the blossoming relationship before the true story of the author’s grandmother being left at the altar, quirkily and funnily depicted the young love of two teenagers in their final year of high school.
However, there was definitely something lost by someone filling in for Lerner as there seemed to be something intrinsically important, not only about the fact that the story was written about her grandmother but also about her link to her grandmother as a woman.
The prose piece was funny and clever, and there was clearly something to be gained from hearing it aloud and not just reading it on paper — the author continually slipped in the words in “I imagine,” a constant reminder that this is all part of a narrative she’s created, and then finally says, “this is the only part of the story my grandmother actually told me.”
Recurring images of the couple turning, or not turning, their shoulders and eyes toward one another — “she turned her shoulders but not her eyes, he turned his eyes but not his shoulders” — serve as a very sweet picture of young, shy love, mixed in with the gentle humor of their innocence.
Senior Alex Bessette ended the readings that will be featured in next semester’s magazine by reading two of her poems, “Catacombs” and “Executioners”
After that J.Magazine co-editors, Marissa Licursi and Alessandra Golden, both seniors, turned the stage over to the audience, inviting anyone who had something they wanted to read to take to the mic.
After a slightly uncomfortable silence, one brave member of the audience chose to share two poems he’d written. One of them, which was aptly written just outside Bird in Hand and was entitled “Sounds of the City,” had descriptions of the “metropolis of senses” and descriptions of Baltimore that particularly resonated with me.
J.Magazine will be releasing their next issue, in which all of the previously mentioned authors’ work will be published over winter break and released the first week of the spring semester, so make sure to pick up a free copy or find them on Facebook.