Student Reading Series brings alumni back for special homecoming

Ink, the College’s creative writing organization, welcomed back four recent graduates for a different kind of homecoming on Oct. 8. A small but intimate turnout of friends and strangers chose to forego their other appointments (including the second presidential debate) to enjoy the first Student Reading Series (SRS) event of the semester.

The alumni readers varied in style and theme – touching on love, cicadas and Billy Joel – but one thing they had in common was a passion for creative writing that didn’t fade after graduation.

Those expecting a dry, ultra-cerebral reading were proven wrong within minutes of hearing the opening guest, Craig Sernotti from the class of 2002. Peppered with references to “The Simpsons,” Sean Hannity and at least seven X-men, Sernotti’s first piece consisted of extremely short stories based on sentences his fiancee murmured in her sleep.

Sernotti followed with a series of bizarre one-liners in the persona of a raspy stoner/pervert. The audience responded to his mix of shock and humor with laughter and applause.

The tone changed dramatically when Sernotti’s reading was followed with the graceful lyric poetry of Rebekah Sankey, who graduated last year. She now teaches third grade and plans to enroll in a Master of Fine Arts writing program.

“I am beautiful because you cannot touch me,” Sankey read from the point-of-view of a fossil. “Ruin me with your bent eyes, turn me over, and terrorize a story out of me,” she continued.

Maya Eilam, junior English and women’s and gender studies major, said Sankey’s poetry was the highlight of he evening. Eilam praised Sankey’s work as being both fresh and timeless.

A major presence in campus and community theater, 2004 graduate John Elliot, read two original monologues from plays-in-progress. One was from the point of view of a female intern embroiled in an art controversy, the other from a would-be serial killer. Elliot recited both pieces in character, adding to their poignancy and humor.

Another 2004 graduate, Dan Brady, ended the reading with several new narrative poems in his typically direct but subtle style. In addition to what he called his obligatory “poems about trains and girls,” his work mused on youth, illness and a historical public relations spinner for Adolf Hitler. As the founder and former president of ink, Brady was prepared for a future in arts management, the graduate field he and Elliot currently study at George Mason University.

Junior English major Bethany Allinder summarized the alumni line-up as a “diverse selection” featuring something for everyone.

All of the alumni were pleased to see their event had become a new College tradition even in their absence. “It’s very heartwarming to see it still going on,” Sankey said. “That makes it feel like we did something good.”

SRS will continue throughout the fall and spring semesters. There is an underclassmen reading in the works for Nov. 22.