Venture magazine launch features farewell reflections alongside future hopes

“Trust the poetic material in your own life,” English Professor George Kalogeris told student writers and artists gathered at Venture Literary and Arts Magazine’s launch party, April 10.

As the featured speaker this year for the annual event, Kalogeris urged students to find their inner voices when crafting their art.

“The originality of your voice is not outside yourself,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s enough to focus only on the self. You are apart of something bigger – a free world, a radical democratic thought.”

The theme of this year’s magazine was writing letters to your past and future selves. Eryn Gordon, the editor-in-chief of Venture, explained that the idea was inspired by the fact that many members of the editorial staff will be graduating in May and beginning the next phase of their lives.

“The idea kind of happened when we were all hanging out at Thinking Cup once,” Gordon told the Journal after the event. “It was like, oh my God, none of us are going to be here next year … this is really the end.”

Venture’s 2014 editorial staff poses in front of artwork submissions at the
magazine’s launch party in the Donahue Cafe, April 10.
(Photo by Ally Thibault)

In the spirit of this transitional phase of life, Kalogeris spoke of his childhood in Winthrop, Mass. as the son of Greek immigrants and his journey from an undergraduate student at Suffolk to his current adult life as a professor here.

The ocean surrounding Winthrop and the epic stories of ancient Greeks fascinated Kalogeris as a child, as reflected in this line from a poem inspired by his textbook from the Greek school he attended each day after what he called American school: “Waves moved back and forth/ Like armies in stalemate.”

Kalogeris is deeply interested in Greek poetry and has worked on many translations of works with the help of his parents. His poem “Ambassadors of the Dead” is a moving piece about the differences between son and parents, scholars and common folk, as it features his parents’ biases towards and against certain writers and his own biases.

According to Kalogeris, his parents thought themselves to be poetic critics, but he was surprised by the poems they did and did not like. Kalogeris commented that his parents did not like the high, eloquent language of some writers. These poets were “too elitist to trust/too drunk on the Ionian sun,” for his parents, he wrote.

Kalogeris also shared a poem called “Deaf Blind School.” As a graduate student at Boston University, he worked at a school for deaf blind children in Brookline that was only a short walk away, separated only by a little bridge, he recalled. While the institutions had very different grasps on language, Kalogeris was equally in awe of the high level of writing at BU and the “very little range, maybe only three or four signs” of language at the deaf blind school that could still communicate so much.

After Kalogeris’ remarks and readings, about 10 students went to the podium to read their work aloud. Ranging from poetry to prose, all the students read in their own personalities and shared work that varied greatly in style and topics – showcasing the spectrum of talent and visions at Suffolk.

Gordon read a poem she wrote titled “Love Is” which began as you may expect a little love poem to start but broke the stereotypical pattern of a young love tale and turned the listener’s expectations upside down as she read: “Love is, / the loathing I have/ my inability to say no.”

The themes of different writers’ stories and poems sometimes meshed together well and other times served to juxtapose conflicting ideas. Conor Carman read an excerpt from his fiction piece called “Cows” in which one short line stuck out: “All she really wanted to do was stand there and blend in, and I thought that was a gorgeous notion.”

In contrast, Megan Murray’s poems showcased a fierce and in-your-face personality as she announced these lines with confidence: “I’m ninety pounds of Freckle and Pride / A little less Jekyll, a little more Hyde.”

Natalie Olbrych dedicated her reading of “The Liar’s Manifesto” to Suffolk’s late English Professor Peter Caputo.

“I never wanted to write something so ugly, and you’ll see what I mean by ugly in a minute,” Olbrych said before beginning her piece, “But he changed the way I write, and I think for the better.”

“The Liar’s Manifesto” was gripping to listen to, as a young girl’s abusive past is recalled and it shapes her in ways you may not expect. The story is a dark tale – instead of trying to break free from the ways her mother taunts and hurts her, the girl masters the lying ways of her parent and teaches the reader how he or she too can manipulate and control situations.

Other students’ stories shared more upbeat tales of love or college-aged antics, bringing laughter in between the serious moments that turned heads and drew out revelatory sighs.

While reading work aloud may set off nervous butterflies for some students, the writers who spoke at Venture’s launch effortlessly shared their pieces and thanked Venture for the opportunity to get their work published.

“I remember writing this story on the back of a bus on the way home from New York and I’m glad it found a home,” Esteban Cajigas said of his piece “A Song for the Unimpressed in D Minor” before reading an excerpt.

Gordon said Venture received a record number of submissions from students this year.

“We got a little over 300. Typically we expect 200 to 250, so that was a pretty nice bump,” she said. “Although we got a lot of quantity, we also got a lot of quality. So that was great.”

From these submissions, the editors of Venture work for weeks choosing the best pieces to publish. Even before this process the staff is working on the logistics of the launch party as far back as December, according to Gordon.

While many of the staff are graduating, Gordon is excited to see the magazine that next year’s students will produce. “The next editor-in-chief [Taylor Preston] is going to do a great job,” Gordon said, “She’s super driven and a great person. She’ll do a fantastic job.”

After working for two years as Venture’s editor-in-chief, Gordon, a senior public relations major, knows she will continue to write poems and shoot photos.

“That’s something I’ve always done as a therapeutic, meditation kind of thing for myself,” Gordon said. “As a writer, you never just stop writing.”