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Students share poetry, stories at Writing Center-sponsored Literary Coffeehouse

Jammin’ Java recently hosted the annual Literary Coffeehouse and gave young writers an opportunity to showcase poetry, short stories and other forms of literature.

The event, held April 6 and sponsored by the Writing Center, was orchestrated by senior English majors Andrea Priest, Shannon Whiting and Sarah Vanacore, with help from professor John Nordlof.

Set in low light, the Jammin’ Java was a perfect locale for a close, intimate encounter with students’ original as well as favorite pieces of writing. Nearly a capacity crowd was on hand to hear and celebrate the many facets of budding literary brilliance.

Junior Stephen Benner started off the night with three short poems.

“You want to own my heart, but I will never give it up,” Benner said in his touching poem about love.

Senior Tremonisha Martin shared an autobiographical short story that revealed her inner voice that spoke casually of massages, mango juice and the sovereignty of God.

Sophomore Clifford Henry Gehret took the stage and shared a very personal poem about his sister who was going through a lot.

“I shall be your brother and you shall be my sister once again,” Gehret saod.

Moving to a slightly more humorous note, senior Rebecca Harwick read a poem affectionately entitled “Sonnet Troubles.”

“I don’t know how to write a flippin’ sonnet,” Harwick said in the opening of her poem. Later she read a great poem in a voice that seemed to embody a combination of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. The crowd was delighted and enjoyed a few laughs.

Four poems were shared by Raine Smith who provided some great imagery with “A Kiss” and “Silver Streaks of Fire.”

The night moved along smoothly, and Sarah Vanacore read some very poignant vignettes about her time spent in the inner-city of Philadelphia.

Junior Rachel Malikow’s piece introduced the audience to a 14 year old girl named Belinda Jean Spurlock. The audience laughed and related to the plight of her struggle through adolescence.

Matt Guire, also a junior, opted to read a poem that was not his own but ended up bringing a unique blend of humor and nostalgia. It was about the legendary video game The Oregon Trail.

Guire was the final scheduled performer. After he finished the microphone was open and the audience was encouraged to come forward and share.

Ruth Robinson stepped up and read an autobiographical piece entitled “Crossroads,” which chronicled her final goodbyes to her family and first breaths with college life.

Rachel Perry brought her watchful eye for political fervor with her poem “Yes,” written specifically about the War in Iraq.

With a short story about a café, Tim Olshefski boasted some skill and wit, managing to fit the entire account into one very long sentence.

Eastern alum and published poet Brian Daniel Baker was also on hand for the evening. Baker read a poem from his book Feigning My Parade and then encouraged audiences to play along with his poem “Homonymph.”

Priest and Whiting closed out the event that they had worked so hard to put on.

Priest shared a short story that she had written when she was five years old. The story about wealth, dreams and witches helped audiences remember the faraway land of childhood.

Whiting also evoked those younger days with her piece, consisting of 26 sentences, each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. Her story vividly brought to life the days of imaginary combat and secret hideouts.

The evening drew to a close and Priest reflected on it, calling it a success.

“I thought it was really well attended, and the quality of the literature amazed me,” Priest said.

Baker was also glad he attended and was impressed with the night.

“It’s not often in which I get the chance to hear the deep recesses of the souls of the people whose faces I see but rarely, if ever, get to know better,” Baker said.

Priest hopes that there will be more opportunities for students to share their writing.

“As a graduating senior, I would love to see more events like this in the future,” Priest said.

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