The two literary publications on campus, Write the Ship and the Reflector, celebrated their launch on Thursday, April 21 in Stewart Hall. This event is the first in-person launch party since 2019’s books.
Write the Ship showcases undergraduate students with strong essays. These works span from Intro to Academic Writing to senior-level writing. Professors recommend these pieces and pass them along to student editors.
The Reflector has served as a “hub for student creativity” on campus since 1957 and features submissions from the student body. The Reflector itself has poetry, prose and art, but also puts together separate chapbooks, called SpawningPool, for these specific categories of work.
“These books and student groups not only showcase outstanding student writing, but they also foster community, connection, creative expression and academic excellence,” said Professor Nicole Santalucia, the Reflector’s faculty advisor, as she opened the event with a warm welcome.
“This journal is not just a yearly publication of student art, prose and poetry; it’s a culmination of our identities and emotions,” Megan Gardenhour, the Reflector’s editor-in-chiefsaid. “As we transition from a virtual space into this new era, it has been fascinating to watch not only myself grow into a new person but also the students around me.” The Reflector has continued sticking together and creating their publications over the pandemic despite the difficulties quarantine presented.
“I’m grateful for everyone who was involved - from the professors who encouraged their students, to the administration for the financial support, and of course to the students who shared their stunning work. It’s because of you all that we’ve been able to see Write the Ship grow and our student scholars shine.”Ashleigh Kennedy, editor of Write the Ship, shared opening remarks expressing her gratitude and the importance of the organization. “Megan and I were overwhelmed by the amount of people who came out to support our publications and the published students,” Kennedy said.
Awards were given to many students throughout the night. Lesly Brown, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, awarded three Reflector submissions with the D’Orazio-Carragher Prize of Excellence. Sydnie Simmons won first place for her poem, ‘Sorry.’ April Petesch took home second place for ‘Monster in the Closet,’ a prose piece, and ‘What Line Can Convey 1,’ an art piece by Darran Edmonds, secured third place.
Tom Ormond, Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, gave out awards for exemplary work in Write the Ship. Brian Atkinson won a Provost Award for the College of Arts and Sciences, Chase Slenker for College of Business, Robert Roush IV for the College of Education and Human Services and Darran Edmonds for painting Write the Ship’s cover art.
The Academy of American Poets Award was given by professor Jordan Windholz to Asheleigh Kennedy. Isabella Brignola and Megan Gardenhour were also recognized for runners up. This is Kennedy’s second time winning this honor for her poetry.
After awards, the floor was given to students’ published work. Members of the Reflector and Write the Ship stepped up to share the work that appears in the collection aloud. Dale Crowley, Ashleigh Kennedy, Sydie Simmons, Isabella Brignola, Piper Kull and Megan Gardenhour read their poetry to the audience. Write the Ship speakers Ashley Ott, Chase Slenker, Emily Dziennik, Kayla Kunkel and Jay Harnish shared brief segments of their essays and literature reviews. Petesch also read her award-winning prose piece.
“It was really thrilling to finally be able to have our launch party in person again after two years of having online launches,” Hannah Cornell, the Reflector’s current associate editor said. “It really is our most important event and it brings together so many talented and dedicated people to share and celebrate all the hard work that everyone has put in to make the Reflector and Write the Ship a reality.”
Cornell and Reflector Public Relations chair Autumn Jones both passed the torch to next year’s executive board. Gardenhour will remain the head editor and is joined by new associate editor Emily Dziennik and PR chair Alaina Conaway. The Reflector’s genre editors and 2021-2022 E-board shared closing remarks, and the night ended with food and merriment.
“The party was genuinely one of my favorite moments at Ship to date,” Kennedy said. Members of both organizations also noted how wonderful it was to be together in-person for this launch. Many members of the English department, President Patterson and Colleen Patterson and members’ families were in attendance. The room was incredibly supportive, and after the readings, everyone enjoyed light refreshments and book signings.
“If you missed the event, you missed hearing the cadence of students reading essays about biochemistry that sound like poetry; you missed the intricacies of poetry that remind us to pause and embrace our humanity; you missed hearing from so many students who communicate and write beautifully,” Santalucia said post-launch.
The event brought together many writers, poets and artists, but more importantly, brought together many creative minds. Write the Ship and the Reflector are available outside of DHC 002 or the Reflector Office in Horton Hall.