The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Minor Bird literary magazine launches it’s newest editions

The atmosphere in the Mellon Board room was one of excitement on Saturday April 12, at the launch party for the Chatham University undergraduate literary magazine: The Minor Bird.  Students and faculty, as well as proud family members, milled about and casually chatted with each other as they waited for the event to officially begin.

The room, filled with the scent of Chatham’s ever popular artichoke dip, as well as black bean and cheese quesadillas and mini cheesecakes, was set up with rows of chairs facing a podium from which selected readers from The Minor Bird would read their works later in the evening. A screen at the front of the room displayed a slide show of student art, which complemented the creative atmosphere of the event itself.

Around 5:15 p.m. the crowd began moving towards the seating area as Lorena Williams, faculty advisor for the Chatham Creative Writing Club and The Minor Bird, called for everyone’s attention. After thanking everyone for coming, and giving a brief welcome, she passed the microphone to senior Courtney Druzak–the editor for The Minor Bird.

Druzak then introduced the evening’s guest lecturer, Salvatore Pane, and–despite his dauntingly long and impressive resume–she chose to focus on his contribution to Chatham as a guest lecturer in 2012, which led to applause from his enthusiastic former students in the audience.

As well as being a guest lecture at Chatham, however, Pane is also the author of the novel “Last Call in the City of Bridges”, from which he would be reading for the event. Pane began by thanking his former student, then moved on to reading a selection of poetry. He explained that he is not a poet, but that when he gets stuck while writing prose he likes to look at the Twitter feeds of NBA players, and restructure their tweets into poetry. As he read a piece based on the Twitter feed of New York Knicks player J.R. Smith, the audience laughed at the absurdity of the tweets, and the ridiculous use of hashtags.


After his humorous opening, Pane shifted to a more serious tone as he began reading the prologue of his book, which chronicled the night of the 2008 presidential election, from the point of view of the 1st person narrator, Michael. The book told of his sitting alone in his apartment, then going to a local bar to celebrate Barack Obama’s victory, only to be confronted with his ex-girlfriend, and the sister of his deceased best friend.

Pane then moved on to a chapter later in the book, which told of Michael’s experience with the 2004 presidential election, and how he and his friend went into the woods to hide from the inescapable truth of another four years with President George Bush, and the possibility of a draft as the war continued.

Pane’s writing captured the misplaced optimism of his generation. His tone, and the narrator’s reflective personality, perfectly embodied to truth of what it means to be a young adult in today’s society. His reading elicited a huge round of applause from the audience.

After the reading there was a short intermission during which audience members were encouraged to purchase Pane’s book, and pick up copies of The Minor Bird from a table towards the back of the room. There was also a raffle to raise funds for The Minor Bird, which audience members were encouraged to take part in.

At the conclusion of the intermission, Dr. Heather McNaugher, and senior Meaghan Clohessy, announced the winners of the raffle. There were jokes about McNaugher serving as Clohessy’s ‘Vanna White’ during which Dr. McNaugher joked, “your Vanna needs reading glasses”, as she tried to read the names on the raffle tickets. Shortly after, Williams came back to the podium to introduce Professor Ian Riggins, who was to be the MC for the remainder of the event.

Professor Riggins began the second half of the event by making a joke about how technology doesn’t always work, and how he had to run across campus to print his notes during intermission, because his phone wouldn’t load the documents. He then explained that he was going to introduce each reader by reading their answers to the questions, “What is your nightmare summer” and “What movie soundtrack would you choose for your work?”

First in line was senior Ashleigh Fox, who said that her nightmare summer was a cold and rainy one, and her soundtrack would be the one from “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”  She read two selections of poetry that dealt with cancer and the struggles of dealing with it physically and socially. After her, Junior Kaitlyn Lacey read an excerpt from her story “Torchlight” which told of a small village that was attacked by beasts, and a family that was torn apart in the process.

Next, sophomore Monica Ballard and senior Courtney Druzak both read powerful selections of poetry. Ballard’s were entitled “t 1/2” and “Hubris,” Druzak’s was entitled “Dominion.” They were followed by senior Meaghan Clohessy, whose story “The Humbler and the Redeemer” was a humorous account of her experiences while getting lost in London. Senior Margaret Yankovich then took the floor to read two poems, one dealing with the fear of masks (which she had hoped would have a better sounding name than “Maskaphobia”) and the other telling of a young girl who saved moths, and the person she grew up to be. Yankovich was followed by senior Jennifer Swisher, who read an excerpt from her story about a young man working in a button factory, and first-year Jessica Turner, who read two poems entitled “Getting Older” and “I Fell in Love With Your Hands.”

The reading finished with powerful pieces from sophomore Rachael Owen and first-year Indigo Baloch. Owen’s piece, entitled “The L Word,” was a story the difficulties of coming out to parents in a world that treats “lesbian” like a dirty word. Baloch’s piece was a poem called “Reasons Why You Should Never Get in a Car With a Boy From New Jersey With Nothing to Lose”, a piece she jokingly called “The Fall Out Boy poem”, which was about the process of falling in and out of love with a boy.

After the reading, Druzak and Creative Writing Club president Olivia Warren, announced The Minor Bird and Creative Writing Club officers for the next academic year. Then they gave gifts to the faculty who helped with the event, and officially ended the launch party.

The event was a huge success from the point of view of Alice Shy, who will be one of the creative editors for The Minor Bird next year. As she said, she “came to support The Minor Bird”, because “Courtney [Druzak] has been work extremely hard to put it, and the launch party, together.”

Shy also explained how excited she is to be creative editor next year, saying “I will get to use the skills I learned in class, and work with Taylor [Gombar–junior, co-creative editor] to hopefully make The Minor Bird even better in the future.”

Druzak also felt that after the long process of preparation, it was a success. In regards to the process of planning the event, she explained that “Meaghan [Clohessy] and I started planning in October…and we contact Sal [Pane] over Christmas break…then we sat down with the creative Writing Club and Book Club presidents to plan.” She said that it was “exhausting and nerve-wracking, but in the end when you get a crowd like this–a turnout like this–it’s worth it.”

Next year’s editor, Kaitlyn Lacey, echoed similar sentiments, saying that she is “super excited” for next year, and that she is looking forward to “working with all of the writers and the editorial board to make really spectacular issues for next year.”


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