If you found yourself in Fulton Honor’s Library on Saturday, you would have been in the presence of the “Who’s who” of BC’s literary community. About 40 people showed up to hear readings of poetry and prose representative of The Laughing Medusa’s ninth edition. The Laughing Medusa is a BC literary journal that exclusively publishes the work of female students, and has returned from a brief hiatus in the 2000s. The supporters at Saturday’s event were treated to complimentary brownies, cookies, and cupcakes, which they enjoyed throughout the readings.
The main event opened with an excerpt reading of “Secrets” by Francesca McCaffrey, A&S ’14. The story follows a conversation about Korean names, made tense by the memory of a war veteran’s secret romance overseas. McCaffrey’s voice came softly through the microphone as she revealed to the listeners: “He had never heard Korean without the sharp pitter patter of war beneath it.”
Among the many notable moments that night was a reading by Christine Degenaars, CSOM ’15. She first explained that the poem was inspired by a mysterious and informative encounter with a man covered in pigeons. This man volunteered random facts about the notorious city birds, whose ugly gray feathers are apparently an evolutionary response to the city streets they reside in. The strange anecdote gave context to the images of the poem that followed “Sunday in Greenwich.” She read: “Tonight I imagine they reminded him of city doves that have fallen from the wintry white of convenience store awnings and have turned speckled and gone gray like the sidewalk.”
Many of the readings that night seemed to refer to everyday strangeness, a subtle theme that continued through the reading by Patricia Owens, A&S ’15. One of her works, “Omaha World Herald: Voice of the People,” was not submitted to the magazine, but was nonetheless a crowd favorite. It featured “found lines” from her local newspaper’s website, placing snippets of news stories among notable reader comments. One of the stories in question reported on a man arrested for murder shortly after a Miley Cyrus concert. It was paired with a user comment: “Miley Cyrus has nothing to do with it, cut the sensationalism!” You had to be there to get the full effect.
One of the liveliest readings came in the form of a short story called, “WHAT YOUR BLOWJOB STYLE SAYS ABOUT YOU.” The title is notable for obvious reasons, but the author, Abigail Farr, A&S ’16, does an excellent job of surprising the audience with a well paced, organic tale of two girls with starkly contrasting views on feminism and dating. Farr dodges the common mistake of being thematically heavy-handed and allows the readers to make up their own minds about the issues at play.
When the readers were finished, attention was drawn toward the magazine in question. The book’s white cover features a quote on the back, from which the magazine’s name is derived, “You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her. And she’s not deadly. She’s beautiful, and she’s laughing.” Gracing the front cover is a beautiful painting by Elizabeth Connaughton, A&S ’14. The “Symbolic Self-Portrait,” an image of a woman holding two children gleefully, is accompanied by more intriguing artwork inside.
This edition is the largest to date, a continuation of recent developmental trends. According to the editor-in-chief, Ericka Schubert, A&S ’14, The Laughing Medusa is intended to be a safe space in which the work of female writers can be celebrated. Over the years the magazine has gained greater exposure. As a result, the 13 councilwomen who determine which submissions are accepted have the luxury of including more qualified works as the frequency of their submission increases. The magazines are currently distributed throughout campus, in places where other publications can be found.