The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Creative Writing Club hosts brand new Rea Coffeehouse Reading Series

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

The historically graffitied walls of the Rea Coffeehouse—displaying years worth of famous quotes, poetic verse, feminist slogans, and humorous catch phrases—captured the mood of the evening on Thursday, November 20, as Chatham University’s Creative Writing Club hosted it’s first ever Rea Coffeehouse reading series.

Although technically starting at 7:00 p.m., there was a period of socializing at the beginning of the event during which people chatted, ate pastries, and drank coffee and tea out of ceramic cups that were being sold for a dollar each as a fundraiser for the club.

Eventually people made their way to the main room of the coffee house, where chairs were set up in front of a small stage.

After a brief welcome from the Creative Writing Club’s President, Brittanie Terensky-Rees, the emcee for the evening, Lorena Williams, was invited to the stage, amidst enthusiastic applause.

“I feel like I won something,” she joked, after doing two victory laps around the stage.

She then introduced sophomore Jess Turner, the evening’s first featured reader.

Turner read both poetry and prose, ending with a short story about the interweaving lives of Anthony, a veteran suffering from alcoholism, and Mary, and young girl struggling with issues of self-harm.

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou
Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

The evening’s second featured reader, and the only one not majoring in Creative Writing, was Senior Catherine Giles.

Giles’s first piece was a poem entitled, “To Earth, with love,” and contained such poignant lines as, “where do you bury the Earth, when there is no Earth left to bury?”

Her second piece, entitled “Tattoos,” was about the mental and emotional scars that a mother inflicted on a daughter as she pressured her to conform to social standards.

Giles performed with intense emotion, reading in a way that made each audience member feel that she was speaking directly to them.

After a round of applause, Williams returned to the stage, making friendly conversation with the audience about the graffiti on the walls.

“Some of these really inappropriate ones I’m sure none of you wrote,” she joked, following it up by saying, “actually, they’re all pretty inappropriate.”

After a few more graffiti related comments, Williams welcomed senior Kit Gigliotti to the stage.

Gigliotti began with two fairly serious pieces of poetry, but ended with a hilarious prose account of the struggles of caring for a sick seeing eye dog while in another country–specifically France.

She talked about rushing through the Louvre in order to get back to her dog, and at one point described the Mona Lisa as, “a square dark spot on a big white wall.”

Upon returning to the stage, Williams talked with the audience about travel and described her college travel experience, saying, “I think I was a sophomore in college. I decided to live in a van in Mexico for a month.”

The fourth reader of the evening was first year Rachel Geffrey, who performed poetry about the loss of friendship.

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou
Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

“You can’t begrudge me an interest in your life; that’s what friends do,” she said, the emotion of the words obvious in her performance.  She continued, “This is your loss, stranger.  I am your loss.”

“There were some good little snippets in there that we might need to write on some of these walls,” Williams later said, clearly impressed by the piece.

She then introduced the last featured reader of the evening, Indigo Baloch, who was meet with a raucous round of applause, and responded with equal enthusiasm as she ran onto the stage.

Baloch began with a prose piece about a girl and her mob-boss father. It told the story of the day the father declared his daughter his heir, but made her prove herself by killing one of his workers, a man with whom she had been close growing up.

Baloch followed with a poem that she mentioned was featured in the fall edition of the Minor Bird, Chatham’s literary magazine.

After Baloch’s performance, Williams complimented the accent that she had used through the prose piece. Then there was a brief intermission during which people socialized, ate, painted on walls, and listened to the music that played softly throughout the basement coffee house.

Despite fears that no one would participate in the open microphone portion of the evening, three people signed up to read including junior Phoebe Armstrong, first year Pearl McCann, and junior Ashley Nicholson.

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou
Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

All three performed poetry pieces, with Armstrong even reading a piece that her dad texted her, and afterwards Williams complemented them by saying, “There are some people in this room that need to declare minors in creative writing.

She even joked with Armstrong, saying, “Starting next year your dad could be in Chatham’s creative writing program.”

Afterwards, first year audience member Stephanie Ramser expressed enthusiasm about the event, although she explained that it was Williams’ persona that stood out to her.

“Lorena’s commentary was amazing,” she said, as another person across the room chimed in with, “Lorena is a goddess.”

The performers were also enthusiastic, including McCann, who said that she had never read her poetry in front of an audience before.

“I like to write,” she said, “[but I thought] it would be weird to make it public.  I didn’t want other people’s biases to change the way I make art.”

She then explained that she just decided to take a chance by reading her piece, and she was glad that she did.

The Rea Coffeehouse Readings will occur again next semester, and anyone interested in being a featured reader can submit work to the Creative Writing Club.

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