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Will Marquess reads

One more launch for beloved Onion muse Will Marquess

04.05.18
By: Mark Tarnacki and Danielle Joubert '20
Students reading

In the large photo above the headline, Will Marquess reads during Wednesday evenings launch party for the Onion River Review 2018 edition. Above, students gathered in the Hoehl common area, with President Jack Neuhauser among them back and left; below, the president and VPAA Karen Talentino enjoy some of the newly published work. (photos by Danielle Joubert '20)

“I’ve been involved with the Onion River from my first year at the college, 1984-85,” says Will Marquess of the Saint Michael’s English faculty, who helped preside Wednesday evening, April 5 in the Hoehl Welcome Center during his last springtime “launch party” for the College’s always highly anticipated annual literary/arts journal, the Onion River Review. Tim Mackin of the Writing Center, who will take over Marquess’s position as the Review adviser next year, also was there.

Students, faculty, staff (both present and emeritus) joined President Jack Neuhauser and Vice President for Academic Affairs Karen Talentino for the party, always a well-attended tradition that included Onion River contributors reading from or sharing about their work, along with socializing and refreshments. Copies of the new journal can be found at strategically placed distribution stands around campus. A large banner proclaiming the review’s arrival hung Thursday morning from the balcony of Dion Family Student Center.

Marquess remembers that his first year with Onion River Review, his English Department colleague Greg Delanty also served as adviser for part of that time. But Marquess soon took it on solo and has been at it ever since as a labor of love. “The great pleasure of working on the review is that the students do it just because—because they love language and art, because they want to create something, because there’s a happy synergy in bringing together diverse talents in every issue,” Marquess said. “As Carey Kaplan {English professor emeritus] has described it, the review is “like an old movie in which Judy Garland encourages Mickey Rooney and the gang:  ‘C’mon, kids, let’s put on a show!’”

A table of snacks for the event, which ran from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Hoehl’s comfy common area, including Cabot cheeses and small pastries. Readers and audience members included Buff Lindau, retired longtime public relations/marketing director, who had two poems in this edition, along with her widely known poet-husband Huck Gutman of the University of Vermont English faculty. Plastic magnifying glasses were spread around the room to look closer at visual pieces with fine detail – for example, artistic prints appearing in the review, such as “Endangered Birds of America,” a watercolor and black-ink collage by Meghan Hjerpe; or a nostalgic digital art piece of an urban scene called “Rewind Encounter” by Margaret Daley.

Contributors in attendance were able to read aloud or offer commentary on their pieces – poetry, short stories and even some photographs that had interesting and amusing back stories. Marquess and the editors gave introductions for those who couldn’t make it – never using notes, which gave the impression that they were always talking about personal friends or acquaintances rather than faceless submitters. Jack and Karen reading

In their opening Editor’s Note to this latest edition, the student core editors – Mikalya Hoppe, Kevin Jeter, Elly Moore, Samantha Sidorakis and Victoria Sullivan – riffed playfully on the onion theme of the journal’s name: “Change is upon us, friends. Yet, despite all that change, we are here with a new Onion. This year’s Onion River Review was birthed from the same wit, spunk and heart that has nurtured all other Onions in the past. Fresh from our Onion Alcove, this issue is all-natural, gluten-free, non-GMO, 100% certified organic, and guaranteed to make you cry. It will also make you laugh, and sing, and wonder if you are really eating what it is you think you are eating. In this year of the dog, we invite you, our loyal readers, to take a bite,” they wrote.

Will Marquess had a playful last word of his own the next day: ““Last night’s release party was the usual festive occasion,” he said. “In the presence of an appreciative audience, we walked through the new issue, inviting contributors to read aloud or comment on their work.  Because of the California drought, the editors weren’t able to feature the traditional chocolate-covered strawberries, but they compensated with acres of cheese.  When the brie needed warming, one of the editors dashed home for the blow-torch he keeps on hand for crème brulee.  So now I can pass the torch, literally, to next year’s adviser, Tim Mackin.”  

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