2020 Senior Reading

By MacKenzie Brady

Student Life Editor

On Tuesday, April 21, four seniors participated in this year’s virtual Senior Reading. At 7 p.m., the Rose O’Neill Literary House posted videos the students recorded of themselves reading, and an introduction by Associate Professor of English and Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, Dr. James Hall, onto their Twitter and YouTube feeds.

The videos, roughly two minutes each, featured original writing by seniors Heber Guerra-Recinos, Gabby Rente, Mary Sprague, and Abby Wargo, culminating in Dr. Hall announcing the winners of this year’s Literary House Writing Prizes.

“Students look forward to participating in these traditions,” Dr. Hall said, explaining that the seniors should not have to sacrifice their Senior Reading because of COVID-19.

He explained that the reason the Literary House team decided to make the reading virtual was to celebrate the achievements of the seniors and those who entered the writing prize competitions. They chose to use Twitter and YouTube because they already had accounts on those platforms and they would allow the videos to move throughout the literary community as links were shared and retweeted.

The seniors were able to send their videos to their friends and others who would have otherwise been unable to experience the Senior Reading.

“For me, the most exciting thing was watching the videos real time like it were a regular reading,” said Dr. Hall.

However, unlike a regular reading, Guerra-Recinos, Rente, Sprague, and Wargo were all able to add personal touches in their videos.

Guerra-Recinos, a double major in English and art, illustrated his video using the flipbook feature of the Nintendo 3DS.

“I thought it would be more satisfying creatively for me to create an animation rather than simply reading,” said Guerra-Recinos.

Guerra-Recinos’s video images originated from those written in his prose piece, “Finishing Megan’s Drawing.”

“[It was] satisfying to end where I began where I came into college as a naïve 17-year-old kid and now I’m leaving as a naïve 21-year-old adult,” he said.

Rente’s video in which she read “Bird Calling for Beginners,” a prose piece about birds, was recorded outside.

“It was quieter outside,” she said. “And I thought it fit the piece really well.”

Thanks to the help of her sister, Rente was able to record, and rerecord, her outdoor video until it was perfect.

“[It was] really sweet to see professors commenting [on the videos],” she said.

While Sprague and Wargo both had more traditional recordings inside, their personalities still showed through in their attire and the poems they chose to read.

“My original plan was to have my mom record me but then I realized the back-facing camera make me look a lot different than how I perceived myself,” said Sprague, who ultimately propped her phone up on the windowsill to record herself reading her poem “Lightining Strike Out of Nothing.”

“I was really surprised by the work this year, as always,” she said.

Wargo also recorded herself for her video.

“I was excited to redeem myself a bit,” she said, explaining that her writing had progressed so much in college that her poems “Lady Macbeth” and “Jeremiah 12:9” were better than those she had read at the 2016 First-Year Reading and 2019 Sophomore Junior Reading.

“As a reader, I wasn’t doing any actual reading during the reading, I could just enjoy other people reading,” said Wargo, a perk she otherwise would not have had had the reading been in person.

While each of the seniors were glad to have participated, the consensus was that they wished there had been more than just four readers.

“I’m glad I did it,” said Rente. “Now more than ever we need words, so I’m glad we mustered up the strength to do it.”

“I wish there had been more participation, but I totally get it,” said Dr. Hall.

Between potential technological problems; deadlines from theses, Sophie Kerr Portfolios, and general assignments; and more, there were plenty of explanations for the low participation.

“I want to express my appreciation and my gratitude to the Literary House Staff for making [the Senior Reading] happen,” said Guerra-Recinos.

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