The Rowan University Art Gallery was a fitting environment for a celebration of the art of literature, and the release of a new issue of Glassworks Magazine.
Glassworks, a literary effort of the Rowan Master of Arts in Writing program, welcomed four contributing authors for readings of their work last Thursday at 301 High Street.
Robert Fillman, Alison Hicks, Mary Ann McGuigan and Emily Weber were the visiting authors. Each has works published in either the current fall issue — No. 13 for the magazine — or the upcoming spring issue.
Alison Hicks, whose writings have appeared in Eclipse, The Louisville Review, and many other journals, opened the night of readings. Her poetry spanned a wide array of subjects, from the contents of a drawer in the appropriately titled “Drawers,” to a deconstruction of modern supermarkets with “Giant.” Concerning the origins of her creative ideas, Hicks isn’t quite sure where they come from.
“I don’t completely understand the process myself,” she admitted. “It’s very mysterious.”
Primarily an author of young adult fiction, Mary Ann McGuigan had her second novel qualify as a finalist for the National Book Award. Her selected story for the event dealt with a character trying to fight an annulment with a priest, an event drawn from an experience in her own life.
“I have no reason to make up characters. Almost all of my fiction is based not only on real events, but real people. I pray that I don’t get sued.” – mary ann mcguigan
“I have a very large, insane family,” McGuigan said. “I have no reason to make up characters. Almost all of my fiction is based not only on real events, but real people. I pray that I don’t get sued.”
Robert Fillman, a Ph.D. candidate and teaching fellow at Lehigh University, read six poems. Several were inspired by paintings, including those by realist painter Edward Hopper. One poem read by Fillman, “Cicadas,” was in honor of recent warm weather that hearkens back to summertime.
Fillman offered advice to aspiring writers: “Tell the truth, until the truth is boring. And then you invent stuff.”
Capping off the night was Emily Weber, a writer within the field of public relations whose work has appeared in publications such as the Muddy River Poetry Review. Echoing the other authors, Weber’s essay “Half Empty” came out of a real life event: a conversation with a friend who was considering using a sperm donor to get pregnant.
She further unpacked the relationship between art and real life, saying, “My story’s about two damaged people trying to help one another through it. I’ve been both of those people.”
Junior writing arts major Carmen Grasso spoke highly of the poetry presented, especially Fillman’s.
“I was enveloped in everything he read,” Grasso said. “It was based on creating this scenery that felt warm and welcoming.”
Katie Budris, editor-in-chief of Glassworks and a professor in the writing arts department, explained the process of putting the magazine together. A graduate-level class called “Editing the Literary Journal” reads the submissions, helps select what gets published, and writes online content for the magazine. Submissions are not accepted from current Rowan faculty staff or students to avoid conflicts of interest in the submission process.
Budris said the class is also open to undergraduate seniors who meet certain requirements.
Visit the Glassworks website here.
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