REVIEW: LHSP Literary Journal Release Party

“Dear Friends” as a collective work of art is astounding.  I’ve only been able to skim through a small portion of it so far, but after attending tonight’s launch party I can barely put it down.  It is so inspiring to me simply because it’s a visual representation of a completely diverse group of people coming together to create.  Paul Barron sums that up very well near the end of his introductory note: “Whatever our contributors study or work at, they have made a space in their lives to see closely, to experience deeply, and to show us the world through their eyes.”  That in itself is why “Dear Friends” is so powerful, and the launch party was no different.

Natalie Burr was the first reader, electing to share her piece of fiction called Making Room.  It told a story about how a living person can fade away, leaving their loved ones to grieve about how they used to be.  The imagery in Making Room was so vivid that at one point, the narrator was describing running her tongue around her teeth, and I noticed the person sitting to my right doing the same.

The second reader was Christina Khouri with her poem, Untitled.  It was a short poem about how hardships can make instability seem normal.

Following Khouri, Asritha Vinnakota first read a short story titled Bells Chime.  The story is told throughout the duration of a grandfather clock tolling twelve times.  The narration pauses every now and again to let the reader know that, for instance, the fifth bell is chiming.  She then read her poem called Bullet Freedom.  It seemed to reflect the artfulness of fragmented thoughts.

Next, Sharon Shen read her poem, A Toast.  It was a powerful piece comparing the human mind to a garden, likening intrusive thoughts to weeds overtaking daisies.  The narrator tells an inspiring tale of survival, realizing “how much power courses through these fragile bones.”

Haley Winkle, a Caldwell finalist, then read Don’t Tell Me, a poem criticizing getting drunk at frat parties.  One of the more striking stanzas was: “Don’t tell me how great it is / until he’s getting you to forget / how to spell your own last name”.

After that, Nikole Davtyan read her poem called Used Cars.  It told the story of a girl taught at a young age never to have sex.  Her mother, giving her “the talk,” compared girls who have sex to cars at the junkyard.  The ending of the poem implied the narrator’s resentment towards her mother.

The last reader was Rebecca Polinsky with a nonfiction piece entitled Stinky Feet.  It was a narrative discussing how a friend’s eating disorder impacted Polinsky’s life.  Although at times horrific, the essay ended with the narrator realizing she was losing her identity as a confident woman by allowing herself to be so negatively influenced.  Despite the overall theme of the piece, Polinsky’s conclusions were empowering in the sense that she rediscovered her confidence.

In the words of Megan Knittel, the Editor-in-Chief of “Dear Friends”, “…the core of LHSP philosophy [is] that creative expression can connect us and teach us about ourselves.  This year’s journal is about discovering ourselves through others.”  I am proud to have a poem included in this amazing collection, and to have been a part of LHSP last year.  “Dear Friends” is a magazine containing boundless ideas, limitless new perspectives, and incredible artwork.

“Dear Friends” cover by Katherine Qiao


I am a senior majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Comparative Culture and Identity and a minor in Sociocultural Anthropology. I'm an avid coffee and bonfire enthusiast with an interest in the arts.

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