Through a red door into a small living room darkened by burgundy velvet curtains, a group gathers to share music and the spoken word. This space, the Rose Room, is used for intimate concerts by local and traveling bands but has branched out to include poetry slams and spoken word gatherings since late December. The monthly event is called Quasar, a term taken from astronomy that means an exceptionally bright body of energy, with the subtitle “An island of misfit toys.”
“‘Island of misfit toys’ is a welcoming statement,” said Mattie Thrasher, co-founder of Quasar. “I used to love the Rudolph Christmas story, and, even as a 5-year-old, it hit me in the heart. Anyone who feels left out in society as a whole, or even if they don’t feel left out, they can be a part of this.”
The Rose Room is of Patrick McKee’s creation. A former Loyola University student, he transferred to Ole Miss to finish his degree last year and is a tenant of the house.
“It’s really important to give people a voice and a platform,” McKee said. “It can be that, and it can also be really, really fun. So to connect people with those two worlds and say, ‘Hey, we have a party, and everybody is welcome. It’s a safe space. Just come expose yourself to it at no risk whatsoever’ – that’s really cool.”
McKee opened the Rose Room up to Thrasher and her co-founder, Katherine Flannigan, after the latter were discussing finding a venue for Quasar. The event is held the first Sunday of every month and is open to the community at large. Anyone who wants to present his or her work is encouraged to do so.
The night’s lineup consisted of three artists. The first, freshman music major Lawson Marchetti, read three poems.
“We did something called ‘Poetry Out Loud’ in high school, which was a recitation contest,” Marchetti said. “I had never written anything, but I really loved it. I had gone to nationals twice to represent the state and couldn’t part with it without lots of tears. I didn’t know when I would have the opportunity to recite again, so I decided I’d just start writing.”
From his poem “Tired,” he read, “I stared at a large stack of tires and thought of all the things that I could be doing better with my life, at this exact moment, than staring at a stack of tires.” And later, “… My agitated brain, who was revving up to burst out of the garage of my skull and drive laps around every single tire, filling the atmosphere with sweet emissions of art, or of poetry.”
“I’m excited Oxford has such a fabulous art scene where I get to do stuff like this,” he said.
Victoria Mulqueen, a junior English major with a creative writing emphasis, read aloud from her work of fiction titled “Laden.”
“My main character struggles with moving on or getting over some issues,” Mulqueen said. “Even though it might not be about accomplishing those issues, it’s about experiencing them.”
From her short story “Laden,” she read, “I haven’t been the poster child for mental health so who’s to say whether or not this dream, this elation, is, or isn’t, healthy?”
“I wanted to share my work and maybe give courage to other people to maybe share their work,” she said.
Sunday night’s third artist, Taylor Treece, is a recent graduate of the university who is now a co-founder of his own recording and production company, Carbon Recording Studios, which is based out of Cleveland. Treece presented his short film titled “How to Get Dressed,” an experimental and complex piece that deals with themes of grief over a broken romantic relationship, disconnect from other people, the connection between the conscious and subconscious and a friend’s suicide.
The closing monologue, in which the main character faced the reality of a friend’s suicide, raised the questions: How do you put feelings into words? Does true meaning unhinge within the watered-down result of translating what began as emotion into language?
“The end monologue was an attempt to understand what he was going through, through my own personal struggles,” Treece said. “At the end of the film, it was a question of whether or not we were going through the same thing.”
Quasar was inspired by Broken English, an event hosted by students in the creative writing master’s program.
“The goal is we want it to be all ages or people who aren’t even majoring in writing or English,” Flannigan said. “I want it to be a place where younger people who don’t necessarily have a voice or have a place they can share their voice to come read anything and everything.”