While dining on cheesecake, spice cake, coffee and tea, attendees mingled with writers, artists and staff, congratulating them on the recent publication of Touchstones.
In a scene that looked better suited for a small coffee shop than a conference room in the Sorensen Center, the launch party, called My Word, for the spring 2011 edition of the literary magazine attracted not only the creative minds behind the publication but also faculty, friends and family.
The party began with the attendees sitting at various tables while eating, talking and laughing. Walking among those present, snippets of conversations ranged from art and literature to philosophy and music, proving the crowd to be comprised of both intellectuals and creatives. People’s attire was a diverse mixture of dresses and heels to jeans and t-shirts. Some brought their parents while others brought their kids.
Copies of the magazine were being read by numerous people, the cover featuring the painting “Morning Routine” by senior Larissa Norman. Norman’s piece, which also won first place in the art category, is a watercolor and ink self-portrait and slightly less than glamorous.
“I was a little nervous,” Norman said. “Not only is my working going to be on the cover, but it’s also my face.”
Norman describes her work at a blend of humor and humiliation, both of which come out in “Morning Routine.”
“Art is something where you expose yourself,” Norman said. “And I play that up.”
The program began with an introduction by Meggie Woodfield, Editor-in-Chief of Touchstones. After introducing members of her staff, selected writers came up one by one to read their pieces.
Emma Hunt Samudio, first prize winner in poetry, read her piece “Home Economics,” followed by Darek Purcell reading his first place prose piece, “A Character Sketch.”
Purcell’s work, which features an author writing a story when his protagonist begins talking to him, is the second piece Purcell’s had published by Touchstones. Last semester, his poem “One Date Too Many” was Purcell’s first time being published.
Having written most of his young adult to adult life, Purcell mostly writes fiction, though has written creative non-fiction and poetry before.
“There is an autobiographical element to everything I write,” Purcell said. “I write about experiences I’ve had or questions I have that don’t have answers.”
The evening also held a first for the Touchstones party. A dramatic reading of the first act of Wendy Gourley’s play “The Story Stone” was performed by a group of seven Theater and English majors. Woodfield was delighted that this edition could feature a dramatic piece.
“I loved it,” Woodfield said. “I definitely want to include more dramatic and more varied work in the future.”
The evening continued with readings of other pieces that didn’t win awards but were still published. “Needle in the Hay,” a short story about a girl in a coffee shop, was read by author Andy Sherwin and Annik Maryse Budge read “À L’Un,” a poem written entirely in French.
The program concluded with Emily Ballstead reading her piece “Fertility Goddess,” a poem about her experience being pregnant with her first child.
After the program, the crowd mingled and talked once again. Several writers and artists were asked to sign copies of the publication. When asked about the success of the evening, Woodfield was pleased.
“I think it went really well,” Woodfield said. “We had a really good turnout.”
Copies of the spring 2011 edition of Touchstones are available for purchase in the English Department offices, LA 114. Copies are $5.