By Mariko Curran
A wanderer pined for the past, a baby cried carats and Christ swigged scotch in the Library Auditorium on Wednesday, March 30, as three students breathed life into words at the semester’s second Student Reading Series.
The writers, selected for the event by the sponsoring organization ink, each indulged an audience of about 40 students with three original works, including poetry, short stories and — in senior English and self-designed creative writing double major Enrico Bruno’s case — the first chapter of a “long short story” in the magical realist tradition.
Bruno, known among friends to express his seldom-given literary praise with a joking “it dragged me to hell,” dragged listeners through crowded streets in “First Tears,” on the skirt hem of a nurse running with a stolen newborn.
“‘All the nurse could see was her rich future,’” he read: the baby — named Feliciano, for luck, by his singularly unlucky mother — cries tears that “clink to the floor” as diamonds.
Dry delivery of lush, fantastical scenes also characterized sophomore English major and Signal Arts and Entertainment Assistant Shaun Fitzpatrick’s “Last Call,” a short story of faded gods drinking to their “‘glory days.’”
“‘We used to be the most powerful beings in the cosmos,’” Fitzpatrick’s Zeus laments to his peers, while a suave, still-relevant Jesus explains his own success: “‘I just stay fresh.’”
Fitzpatrick tickled the crowd with “Last Call” and her playful poem “Electric Fixation,” which refers to “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and insists that “‘fetish is a really judgmental word.’”
The spirit of the night was also punctuated, however, by more somber, introspective
moments — junior English major Alexa Baird evoked a quiet, pained nostalgia in “After the Earthquake, Where Did Your Bicycle Go?”
If only everything in life could be tied together, the speaker of the poem says, “‘nothing would ever be lost, and no one would ever move.’”
Baird wrote the piece in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The bicycle in the title “is a reference to how sometimes, in moments of extreme chaos or grief, we suddenly find ourselves wondering about random trivial (or what may seem trivial) things,” Baird said in an e-mail. “The whole poem came from the feeling of displacement and the urge to desperately keep things the way they were.”
If Baird’s work reflected lost connections, however, the event itself did anything but.
“It’s like a little community,” sophomore English and special education double major Alicia Cuomo said of the Student Reading Series crowd. “As someone who writes, I like going to these just to see other writers on campus,” she said, noting that many of the works presented at the events are new to her.
Bruno’s “First Tears” was a special treat for Cuomo and sophomore special education major Frank Sung, both ink members who were “giddy” to finally get a taste of the “secret novel” Bruno, the club’s president, had been guarding for quite some time.
“I’m sure I’ll be taking what I heard (tonight),” Sung said. “There’ll be influences on what I write.”