Student writers suit-up for black-tie event

Stephanie Allen

As the fishladder faculty advisor, Caitlin Horrocks, read a sneak-preview poem from the unreleased 2013 edition, editor-in-chief, Kathryn Willis, had never been happier.

Willis mingled with writers and fans of the student-run submission publication at the 10th Anniversary Gala March 12, which celebrated the history of student writers at Grand Valley State University. The date, if only by coincidence, was exactly one-month before the new edition will be released.

The black-tie event featured one reading from the past 10 issues and was a way for everyone to get as excited about the 2013 edition as Willis is, she said.

“I know what’s in it, I know what it looks like, but there’s nothing like slitting open that (box) tape and touching it for the first time,” Willis said. “It’s just, like something wells up inside you – I don’t know if this happens to everybody else, but I’m a little obsessed. I love this magazine.”

And it was just an excuse for everyone to get dressed up and have a good time, she said.

“A black-tie event is something that’s really cool, and you don’t get to do that in college very often to celebrate something like this,” Willis said. “I wanted an event that would appeal to maybe, just someone who wanted to dress up and then didn’t know about fishladder and now knows about fishladder, which is something I love so much.”

Willis said funding for the gala and April’s unveiling event, which will also be catered by GVSU, comes from the Writing Department’s budget.

Horrocks was excited to see the more than 40 students who attended and were interested in the publication, which accepts yearly submissions for fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, drama, photography, and art.

“We’re having a party, but its not just a party, you know, it’s like, ‘Let’s celebrate the legacy and celebrate the students that have been in it,’” Horrocks said.

As one of the staff members who were chose to read during the gala, assistant head editor, Nikki Fisher, read a poem from the 2008 edition. Reading the piece helped connect her to previous fishladder writers, which she said reminded everyone that this isn’t just something that’s happening now, but has been going on for years.

“It’s kind of like reading ancient text, you know, by like Socrates or Plato or something, where you’re like, ‘Wow, people 2,000 years ago were writing this and I’m still reading it’ – except for it’s a much shorter time span,” Fisher said.

Looking back on the past five years while Horrocks as been advisor, she said it’s been a mix of surprise and consistency. But the one that remains consistent is the strong submission of work from GVSU students.

“The Grand Valley students are such talented writers and artists, and it’s always nice to have no shortage of work to feature and celebrate,” Horrocks said. “So the thing I love most is the thing that doesn’t change, which is that it’s always a strong magazine.”

The 2013 unveiling event is April 12 at 6 p.m. in Lake Ontario Hall. It features free food and copies of the new issue. For more information on fishladder, go to
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