The Drake University community and local Des Moines residents gathered in the always-inviting Cowle’s Library Reading room for the third annual Drake Writers’ Harvest festival last Thursday evening.
The event honored the three selected winners of the 2010 Periphery, Drake’s literary and art journal. The night also featured writing from the journal and readings from poet Johnathon Williams.
Williams was selected as one of the 2010 Periphery Literary Magazine judges last year to elect three exceptional pieces from the publication.
Over 50 people came out to hear poetry and fiction readings from the most recent edition of Periphery while benefitting the Food Bank of Iowa. The festival helps to raise awareness, money and perishable goods for the Writers’ Harvest, the United States’ largest annual literary benefit to fight hunger. Writers Harvests are held every year across the country on college campus and in bookstores. Proceeds are donated to local anti-hunger organizations.
The Harvest has been held nationwide for 20 years, but was brought to Drake three years ago by Drake professors Fred Arroyo and Jennifer Perrine as a part of the Writers and Critics Series.
“It is a good way to involve the Des Moines community and Drake,” Perrine said.
Four years ago, Arroyo and Perrine were looking for a way to engage the Des Moines community with Drake while celebrating literature. Both professors knew of the event from working at previous institutions. The Harvest has been growing in success at Drake since 2006.
Matt Nelson kicked off the readings with his winning poem “Alive” and later read his winning piece “The Wolfhound.” Nelson was energized about his pieces being honored in Periphery this year.
“It was really exciting, and my parents drove seven hours to be here,” Nelson said.
Kelly Lawler charmed the crowd with her winning poem, “I’ve only slapped two boys.” Lastly, Drake graduate Kara McKeever came back to her alma mater to read her fiction-winning piece “The Mulberry Tree.”
“Each piece was so unique and creative,” senior Katlyn Malcomson said. “It made me realize the different ways to approach writing poetry.”
Williams finished off the evening with readings from his manuscript he is currently working to be published. His poems are based on his childhood, father and where he grew up.
“It was a full, good crowd—and for a poet that’s good,” Williams joked about the turnout of the harvest.
Williams is a writer and web developer. His poetry has appeared in the “Best New Poets 2009” anthology, “Unsplendid,” “Tar River Poetry” and the “Pebble Lake Review.” He is the founding editor for the weekly online magazine of original poetry, Linebreak.
Periphery is published each year. It is student written and edited. It was made to challenge the usual form of art and literature. Students are free to voice themselves in the publication. If you are interested in being a part of the Periphery, the magazine will be accepting submissions later this year.