Three undergrads read original works of creative writing at an event called “Lowercase” on Saturday afternoon at Cabin 82, a coffeeshop in the lobby of the Graduate Oxford.
The “Lowercase” reading series, which solely features undergraduate writers, started last March and is supported by the Ole Miss Department of English.
Malerie Lovejoy, a senior English major and English department intern, organized the event. She said she has had no trouble with interest when it came to the process of finding students to speak at the event.
“(Students) just email me,” Lovejoy said. “I’ve never run into the problem of having too many people — only people wanting to read their works at the event after the submission period is over.”
The first student to present, anthropology major Tim Heard, read poetry drawn from personal experiences and the world around her.
Heard’s poem “September” dealt with her complicated relationship with an ex-boyfriend. The two established contact one September, only to drift apart until the same month’s reoccurrence the next year. After this, she read a few other poems, one of which was set in a museum and one of which played with lyrics from songs by Panic! At the Disco.
“To Love a Falsity” was Heard’s final poem, and it created a thematic through line to “September” by addressing loving an individual that Heard thought she knew who turned out to not be who she thought the individual was.
“My work comes from my experiences; it was my first love in that last poem,” Heard said. “Everybody has a story, and everybody should tell it in one way or another. They should have a platform, and the best thing we can do is listen.”
The next student to read was junior anthropology major Jacqueline Knirnschild, who presented a short story about a night of barhopping with friends and their various close encounters with surly men. Before reading, Knirnschild informed the audience that the work contained themes of sexual harassment and assault but that she chose to present this work now because of how ever-present the topic is in the current conversational landscape.
“Malerie (Lovejoy) was very accepting of the story,” Knirnschild said. “I thought they’d say, ‘You can’t read this,’ but they were very free with the form and subject matter, so long as I issued a content warning before. They allowed me to tell my story, and I thought it was timely.”
The final reader was senior English major Dustin Wright, who read poetry that included descriptive aspects of objects and places, while occasionally incorporating religious elements.
“The Spill,” for instance, addressed his hometown with a rapid-fire sequence of defining qualities that included industrialism, pollution and the meanings behind commonplace things, while “God’s Little Room” and “The Hall of the Vessel” alluded to Christianity. His final poem, “Fear in Oxford,” dealt with themes of fear and darkness as well as the presence of light that can break through that darkness.
The event was a part of the English department’s celebration of Banned Books Week, which is an annual awareness campaign encouraging individuals to read banned and contested books in celebration of free speech and in opposition to censorship.