January 23, 2009
'Essay' features work from promising writers
The event featured readings by students whose work was published in the magazine.
"Essay," now in its ninth year, is one of four literary magazines published annually by the Writers' Institute at Susquehanna.
Unlike the English department's other magazines, "Essay" is devoted entirely to creative nonfiction and is composed of personal essays, memoirs, literary journalism and photographic sumbissions.
The magazine was first produced in 2000, replacing the on-campus newsletter "Liminal Spaces."
At the reading, Gary Fincke, director of the Writers' Institute, announced the winners of the Erik Kirkland Award, which is presented each year to the writer of the best essay in the magazine as chosen by an outside writer.
The award honors Kirkland, a former student editor at Susquehanna who died in a military accident.
This year, author Bob Shacochis, who will give a reading in February, was selected to be the judge for the award.
Winners of this year's award were Lauren Bailey, a junior creative writing major, for her essay titled "Supposed to Hurt," and Spencer Smith, a creative writing major who graduated in December, for his essay titled "Pretty Daydreams."
"The writing in both essays is often wise and often sophisticated and always so generous with a level of unabashed honesty that you never find in people who have a tendency to be disingenuous," Shacochis said.
Shacochis added, "The essays have a flair for character, a wonderful eye for detail, and a masterful control of syntax and sensibility."
Finalists for the award were Nadia Waggener, a junior creative writing major, for "Comfort Objects," and Jen Herman, a senior creative writing major, for "Submerged."
Fincke said that each year he is continually impressed by the quality of the writing in "Essay," as well as the department's other publications.
This year, Fincke said that he was especially proud to receive high praise from Shacochis.
Shortly after he received the entire manuscript for this year's "Essay," Fincke said, "Shacochis sent an e-mail that said, 'Who taught these kids to write so well? The top six or seven are very, very good, better, in some cases, than the work I see in the graduate program at Florida State.'"
The quality of this year's magazine is due in large part to the co-Editors-in-Chief, senior creative writing majors Rob Shick and Erin Lindberg.
"This is the first year that "Essay" has been run by a pair of co-editors instead of a single editor in chief," said Shick, who has also served as the fiction editor for the "Susquehanna Review" and a co-editor for "Variance."
"The magazine benefited from having two sets of creative eyes as well as two pairs of hands to share the workload," Shick said.
Readers of the magazine may notice some changes in design that have been made to the publication.
"Erin Lindberg and I decided early on that we wanted to focus on updating and modernizing the look of Essay," Shick said.
Together, they teamed up with Jessica Oswald, a senior graphic design major, to create the final product, which is "much more aesthetically pleasing," Shick said.
For more information about the magazines produced by the Writers' Institute and about upcoming events, visit susqu.edu/writers.
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