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April 23, 2010
Vol. 51 No. 21

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Alumnus, students launch RiverCraft literary magazine

The Writers' Institute hosted its last visiting writer for the academic year on Monday, April 19 during the release of this year's RiverCraft literary magazine. Alumnus Jay Varner '03 read from his essay "Pennyslvania Bolide" and current Susquehanna students read from pieces featured in the magazine.

"Pennsylvania Bolide" was published in The Georgetown Review; its title references a type of meteor typically referred to as a fireball, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

The event began with an introduction by the magazine's co-editors, senior Allie Bochicchio and junior Theresa Beckhusen. They explained the choice of the quote on the front cover of the magazine, "You ain't even begun to taste what the world has for you."

The quote comes from senior Markus Burke's story, "Praise."

"Allie and I were really drawn to the quote, because it reflected both where the characters in the stories and poems were and how we as college students are between identities," said Beckhusen. "We really liked how it was communicated. It speaks to a wider audience than its original context."

To begin the event, students published in this year's RiverCraft read from their work, then Dr. Tom Bailey, professor of English, introduced Varner.

Varner's reading referenced his first days as a student at Susquehanna, when he lived in Smith Hall. He spoke about lying about his background to fellow students in order to fit into what he perceived would be more socially acceptable, as well as his experience working at Wal-Mart the summer after his freshman year. In addition, he spoke about how the creative writing professors at Susquehanna inspired him to get to where he is today.

Varner's work has appeared in such publications as Black Warrior Review, Quick Silver, The Southeast Review. His first book, a memoir titled "Nothing Left to Burn," is scheduled for publication by Algonquin Books later this year.

Gary Fincke, professor of English and director of the Writers' Institute, praised Varner's accomplishments.

"Jay Varner was possibly the hardest-working creative writing major in the history of the program," said Fincke. "He put in the hours and the drafts and is now a young writer who transforms raw material into compelling, polished prose."

Varner, a Central Pennsyl-vania native, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from Susquehanna and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. He lives with his wife in Charlottesville, Va.

The evening concluded with the announcement of the winners of the Juliet Gibson Memorial Award.

The award was established in 1988 in remembrance of the student editor who died the previous year. The winner of this year's award was senior Steven McQue. In addition, two finalists, one each in poetry and fiction, are selected each year from students who are published in RiverCraft. The finalist in poetry was senior Kaitlyn Wall, and Burke was chosen as the finalist in fiction.

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