On April 21, 2022, the University of Maine’s Department of English literary magazine, The Open Field, hosted an open house at the Stewart Commons Fernald APPE space for the release of their spring publication and to honor to their contributors who made the magazine possible. Launch parties are held each spring if the publisher chooses to organize one. This year’s poetry editor, Megan Ashe, is a recent UMaine graduate with a BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and minors in Political Science and Interdisciplinary Legal Studies. Last semester, Professor Jennifer Moxely asked her to be the editor of The Open Field.
“The Open Field is an undergraduate literary magazine at the University of Maine,” Ashe said. “Any undergraduate student can submit their poetry, visual arts, creative non-fiction or short fiction to The Open Field.
The launch party was hosted by Ashe and fiction editor Page McHatten. Behind them was a slide show of paintings by Haid Tanous. The three paintings were called “Annalize”, “Florence” and “Maura”. They were portraits of women with red hair, probably different women, but they all looked a lot alike. Still, Tanous’s use of a brush perfectly supported the vibe of the launch party.
The launch party was an opportunity for some of the contributors to courageously read aloud their poetry or their fiction in front of the public. The launch party was brief and attendees received refreshments at the end. They also received copies of the new issue of The Open Field.
“I realized how much time and energy goes into creating text,” Ashe said. “There are a lot of things to format and consider when creating a book. I also really enjoyed reading everyone’s work!
The majority of contributors were students with a major in English who had either a minor or a concentration in creative writing. However, you don’t have to be an English major for your work to be submitted to the magazine.
“There is a call for applications announced each fall semester,” Ashe said. “Usually you can find posters with information at Neville Hall or you can inquire about it at the English Department office. We are not taking any submissions at this time. If you’re really interested in submitting but don’t know where to start, I recommend emailing Prof. Moxley or Prof. Adams and they can direct you to the new editors. Any undergraduate student can submit.
The literary magazine featured poetry and fiction expressing themes ranging from loss and forgiveness to addiction and hope. Fourth-year history student Ryan Damato recited aloud an excerpt from his short fiction “Tim’s Dead” to the audience. It was the moving and intriguing story of a group of friends, suspected drug addicts, who react casually to the death of their friend, whose appearance joins them in the aftermath of the event. In McHatten’s introduction to Damato’s piece, she shared her writing motive.
The other students who read their writing aloud were fourth-year students Lily Comeau-Waite and William Bickford. Comeau-Waite holds a double major in English and Psychology. Next week, she will be presented at the English Department Awards Ceremony with the Outstanding Senior Award. She recently published a book called “Not a Cry for Help Just a Crying Out”. Her poem that she read was titled “Olive Branch”.
Thinking about its name, the poem was the memory of a fight or the end of a relationship. The poem reflects that the subject no longer yearns for the peace of their significant other, that the damage that has been done cannot be undone. It was extremely moving.
Likewise, Bickford’s poem titled “Fire and Ice” was a passionate and anxious poem from the inside of a boy’s head. He is a fourth-year English student with a minor in drama, which came through in his readings. Her emotional delivery shows her background in acting. He exposed the themes of fear surrounding sexual desires to his audience.
Ashe added that she wanted to thank a few of those who made The Open Field possible.
“I would like to thank Professor Caroline Bicks, English Department Chair Steve Evans and the Honors College for their generous donations to The Open Field,” Ashe said. “Without them we would not have been able to go to print or fund the launch party and we are very grateful for their contributions. I would also like to sincerely thank Professor Moxley and Professor Adams for their help. advice to Paige and I. I am truly grateful for all of their time and effort.