Preceded by an open-mic opportunity, contributors of the Long River Review read their work aloud in an effort to support and inspire creativity through the written word here at University of Connecticut.
Tuesday, Feb. 28 was the second event of the academic year for the Long River Review Reading Series. This event was hosted by the UConn Creative Writing Program and co-sponsored by the UConn Bookstore at Storrs Center. Three readers were featured, as well as two open-mic participants.
After a few minor technical difficulties, Jameson Croteau, an eighth-semester English and business management major and an intern in the Creative Writing Program, opened the evening with his poem entitled “Father.” He says while it’s not based on his own father, the work contains hints of his life. He admits the poem is rather despicable. It was a very nostalgic piece, focused primarily on the changing dynamics of a relationship between father and son. The son yearns for his father’s affection, and, after a time lapse in the poem, we see the son become a father himself and develop his own parenting style in response to his father’s. The repetition and cyclical qualities of the poem were powerful and moving, while it’s simplicity kept it relatable.
Kerry Carnahan, a well-published doctoral student in poetry and translation as well a MacDowell fellow, read next and chose a poem entitled “Psalm,” written by Alan Felsenthal. The poem used excellent metaphors, as well as supernatural elements, to convey a somber tone about internal conflict.
The first featured writer was Caitlyn Durfee, an eighth-semester dual English and Chinese major. She read a collection of poems, including “Fish Bones,” published in last year’s issue of the long River Review. She also read “The Conversation About the Move,” “Initial,” “Ghost Therapy,” “Eau de Parfum” and a few of her translations of Chinese poetry. Her poems have a very distinct whimsical, romantic tone to them. “Ghost Therapy,” especially, was haunting, no pun intended, and, like the rest of her poetry, spoke to very relatable ideas and feelings. She utilizes onomatopoeia often and invokes all five of the senses with her intense imagery. Durfee also demonstrates strong control over the sound and meter of her work. Her wide array of form and style illustrate her diversity as a writer and speak to her ability as an artist.
“Sharing my work was pretty nerve-wracking but very rewarding. It was a big honor to be requested to read tonight and I feel very happy about how it went,” said Durfee.
Next was Erick Pillar, a Ph.D. student in rhetoric, composition and creative writing pedagogy. Also having been printed frequently in publications such as Best New Poets 2016, TriQuarterly, DIAGRAM, H_NGM_N, Fugue and Alice Blue, Pillar has a strong repertoire of works but chose to read from his 13 part series of connected science fiction poems, “The Wax Man Poems.” The poems have a much darker tone. They are from the point of view of a man in a possibly futuristic, seemingly war-torn world, being held in captivity, with no one but a wax figure as company. The poems hold a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty. The wax man is never very clearly defined. It’s a powerful critique on the human experience and the value of interpersonal relationships, as the narrator seems to essentially lose his sanity in his state of captivity. The repetition and cyclical nature of the poems accentuated the speaker’s inner torment.
Ellen Litman, an Associate Professor of English, Associate Director of the Creative Writing Program at UConn and the author of two novels: “Mannequin Girl” and “The Last Chicken in America” was last to read. She read from a prose piece, a short story entitled “Accidents.” The story was about two girls from Russia, one of them being the author herself, on the cusp of high school, who take a summer trip to Leningrad. It discusses typical teenage emotions and feelings of self-consciousness and inadequacy while also being a very poignant remark on society at the time, which was 1988. She combined whispers of historical events and political struggles with a relatable story about growing older and finding yourself, and the test that sometimes poses on friendships. It was ripe with very vulnerable self-reflection.
The Long River Review just closed submissions and are working on the production of the 2017 issue, which will be the 20th anniversary issue.
Other creative writing events to look forward to in the future include a visit by A.E. Stallings in association with the 54th Wallace Stevens Poetry Program on March 8, in the Konover Auditorium, the Aetna Celebration of Creative Nonfiction on April 11 and the next Long River Reading Series on April 19, both of which are in the UConn Bookstore at Storrs Center.
Julia Mancini is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.