Wit, passion and ficus shine in Student Reading Series

“Literature is not just a mausoleum, it’s also a gymnasium.” Students and faculty found this quote from English professor Lee Harrod in their programs at the first Student Reading Series of the Spring 2007 semester on March 29.

Gina McGrath, junior English major and co-coordinator of the event, introduced the program.

McGrath then opened the event by welcoming audience members with a quote by poet Anne Sexton, describing the creative readings of her time as “little freak shows.”

“We have come a long way but we still have a little freak show in us so here’s Exhibit A,” McGrath said, introducing the first reader.

Exhibit A was junior journalism major Tom Dunford.

Dunford read two short stories, the first of which was titled “Revenge of the Ficus.” The story personified a houseplant who, disgruntled by being ignored by its housewife-owner, plots to kill her beloved Jack Russell terrier.

At one point, the ficus complains about the attention the other houseplants receive, commenting about the “whore of a cactus.” Dunford received laughs from the crowd for his witty wordplay.

Next to read was senior English major Andrew Justin Croft, who prefaced his poetry by saying he was “going to structure this like ‘VH1 Storytellers.'”

“I need to give you a history and some background,” he said.

Before reading his first poem of the night, Croft described how it was conceived. “This poem was inspired by vandalism in (the College’s) men’s bathroom stalls,” he said. “I mean, I’ve read people arguing the existence of God in the stalls. Point of view is very important in my poetry.”

Senior psychology major Lisa Gentile read her story titled “A Funeral Home,” a semi-autobiographical story about a girl who grows up in a funeral home. The narrator describes the differences between the downstairs business and the upstairs family home.

“I have checked – there were no skeletons in the closets, not literal closets anyway,” Gentile wrote.

Last to read was senior English major Lauren Bull. Bull read “The Creation of Red,” a poem told from the perspective of Lucille Ball’s hair colorist who was responsible for dying Ball’s hair from blond to red.

Bull also read a short story titled “Meteors” about a granddaughter dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder while caring for her aging and increasingly forgetful grandfather.

In an interview after the reading, Bull talked about her method of writing. “I usually start with a quirk and then build my stories from there,” she said.

Bull also mentioned her favorite part about of writing. “I love what I’m able to get away with,” she said. “I love writing about things that creep up in life. I like to rebuild awkward moments.”

“We’re really happy with the turnout tonight. There was a great vibe,” co-coordinator Alanna Jamieson, junior English major, said after the reading.

Join the College’s creative community for the second and final Student Reading Series of the semester on Thursday, April 26 at 8:30 p.m. in the New Library auditorium. It will feature Andrew Erkkila, Matt Fair, Kathy Loglisci and Susan Pederson.