Sean Campbell made his way to the stage, then stood resolutely behind the podium. Hunched over, he fixed his eyes on the words in front of him and began to read from his newly-published essay, “I Wish I Could Have Met You,” to the gathered audience.
He leaned on the podium while he read, like it was the only thing holding him up. His voice wet with raw emotion. Campbell read about his uncle’s suicide—a man he had never met.
When he finished, a hush fell over the room of more than 50 listeners, replaced by a round of heartfelt applause.
On Nov. 30, Campbell, along with 11 other published writers, shared personal work from the podium of the C-4 Conference Center located on the Citrus campus. Personal work featured in the latest issue—Volume 28, Issue One—of CF-Citrus’s literary magazine, In the Write Mind.
In the Write Mind holds these publication events for each of its magazines as a way of unveiling the latest issue to CF students and faculty, while celebrating the many submissions showcased within its pages.
Campbell, who had neither submitted nor been published in a magazine of any kind before, felt it was important to read his essay at the publication event.
“I wanted to share my uncle’s story,” Campbell said. “Suicide: no one wins that. It’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It hurts everyone involved.”
James Blevins won Editors’ Choice for his poem “Sad to the Branch,” which he read from the podium.
Alicia Simonetti and Emily Cyr both read excerpts from their respective essays: “A Mother” and “Still Ticking.” Larissa Cabrera read a portion of her essay, “Why Is It My Job to Bear Their Future?”
Mason Gonsisko (“Here I Fly”), Lacy Provencher (“A Galaxy Apart”), Elissa Kane (“Ode to a House Fly”), Antonia Yerke (“Anxiety and Depression”), and Cassondra Brennan (“There’s Nowhere Else”) each read one of their published poems to the crowded room.
Jessica Earley, design editor for Issue One, used the platform of the publication event to confess to the assembled crowd that the short story she was reading, “Growing Up Pink,” credited to Skylar Astrid, was actually her original work, written under a pseudonym. Earley also confessed to the crowd, for the first time in a public place, that she is “non-binary,” or, according to Earley, “I don’t identify as being completely male or female.”
“This was kind of like my informal, coming-out event,” Earley said, “like it’s just something I had to get out, and that’s why I wrote this piece.”
Throughout the entire hour-long event, artwork and photography featured in the magazine were playing on a constant loop on two pull-down screens in the conference center.
Artwork and photography by Brennan (“Jimi,” acrylic), Isis Marley (“Hummingbird Hibiscus,” acrylic), Ashley Southey (“Sunset Over the Ocean of Fabrics,” oil pastel), Kailen Price (“A Splash of Color,” digital photo), and Josh Swander (“favela [fah-ve-lah],” digital photo), to name a few, were showcased on the screens during the event.
Jack Kelly, editor in chief of Issue One, was pleased with the turnout for the publication event, but still urges students and faculty to grab a copy of the magazine as soon as possible before supplies run out.
“You probably won’t find as many copies lying around next year,” Kelly said, “because the budget for this volume was cut in half, so we couldn’t print as many copies for the fall issue. It’s pretty exclusive.”
Issue Two of Volume 28 will see publication during the spring semester of 2017.
Melissa Alling, faculty adviser to In the Write Mind, was moved by Campbell’s reading of his essay and the impact publication events have on those present.
“I think these events provide a nice emotional connection to the work,” Alling said, “because Sean Campbell was one of my online students, and I never would have met him if he hadn’t shown up to read. He was almost in tears up there reading.
“He needs this,” Alling continued. “That is the power of this kind of event. These people are writers and when they read their work aloud, it comes to life. The personal connections are irreplaceable when you come to an event like this.”
Story by: James Blevins