Lantern launch celebrates all things creative about Ursinus

Kayla O’Mahoney

Last Tuesday, April 3, students and faculty across all majors gathered in Olin Auditorium to hear from the students and staff behind the Lantern, Ursinus’ literary magazine. The debut of the Lantern is one of the few times a year the arts receives campus-wide recognition at Ursinus. The Lantern Launch is a wonderful celebration of Ursinus’ many literary and visual artists and their works.

     Creative writing professor and magazine advisor Jon Volkmer welcomed the event’s attendees by expressing his pride for the Lantern staff and the talent of artists. Volkmer said this year’s collection of work in the Lantern is “a tasting of the literary menu.” The audience was able to sample the Lantern’s sundry menu from the excerpts the artists read of their published work.

     Content in Daniel Walker’s reading of “Stage Fright”, Ren Toscano’s “Gross”, and Malcolm Loh’s reading of “Wonderbread U” brought forth gusts of laughter from the audience while Jada Grice’s “2 queens (Beyoncé in reference to Sonia Sanchez)” and Taahira Davis’ “Don’t Wanna be White” yielded a stream of snaps of solidarity.

     Following Volkmer’s welcome, Solana Warner, the Lantern’s chief editor and master of ceremonies, spoke of the journey of this year’s Lantern. She gave thanks to her fellow staff, to all the artists and their submissions, and to “inspiration from my fellow students.” Warner discussed the uniqueness of this year’s issue claiming, “this was a particularly tough year to select pieces” which is perhaps reflective of Ursinus’ “great creative writing community.”  

     Warner presented the cover prize, the Lantern’s only visual arts prize, to junior Sydney Cope for her photograph “Stand Up,” which was used as the cover for the Lantern. Lantern section editors announced the prize winners selected by Ursinus alumni. Albert Hahn, the Lantern’s Poetry editor, presented the Poetry Prize to Chiara DeMelfi for “On Dissociation” as selected by by Ian O’Neil, ’08. Joe Makuc, the fiction editor, presented the Prose Prize to Emily Shue for her piece “Untouchable,” as selected by Matt Cordes, ’94. 

     Abigail Raymond ’11, and previous Lantern editor, attended the launch to celebrate the works of students and present the Creager Prize. Raymond herself selected Matt Dwyer as the winner of the prize for his piece “After ‘Rocket Man’”. Raymond told the audience “when literature is at its best, it feels of its moment and timeless, something that ‘After ‘Rocket Man’ both confronts and embodies.” 

      After the cheers and claps for the various Lantern prizes, Jon Volkmer returned to the podium to deliver the Dolman Prize. Though not related to the Lantern itself, it is traditionally given out with the release of the Lantern in the spirit of creative writing. According to the Ursinus website, the Dolman Prize “honors the Ursinus College Senior whose portfolio of creative writing in any genre or combination of genres is deemed outstanding by a distinguished judge.” Volkmer said the judge of the Dolman prize this year was Philadelphia writer Christy Davis and then announced that this year Davis had selected Mya Flood as the winner of the prize for her written play “House Keys.” Volkmer read to the audience Davis’s words on “House Keys,” which had overwhelmed Flood, who learned that she won this prize alongside the audience.

Davis wrote, “The play looks backwards towards America’s antebellum past while simultaneously drawing upon our cultures current critique of white feminism and cultural appropriation. The play is a piece that stands on its own, a complex story that unfolds with utter ease.” When I talked with her afterwards, Flood responded to the announcement of her prize and Davis’ words with, “I’m really honored… I submitted and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be looked at all but it means a lot to me, you know? And I am excited to share it with the world and I am honored that [Davis] said all those sweet things about it.” 

     Flood is now encouraging everyone to attend the production of her Dolman Prize winning play, “House Keys” on April 27 and 28 at 5 p.m. outside of the Kaleidoscope.

     Many students and staff from the Ursinus community attended this year’s Lantern launch. Lantern contributor, Brandon Carey, 18’ said “this was the best turnout that I have seen for a Lantern launch in the four years I’ve been here.” There was an emotional energy in the room after the end of ceremonies–students rushed to the front of Olin to collect a fresh copy of the Lantern and see their work printed. Students and faculty congratulated the published artists. The Lantern launch was a well-attended celebration of creativity at Ursinus.