By Anna Mann
On Wednesday, April 12, the Mountain Goat Launch brought a large crowd to the McGriff Alumni House in order to celebrate the release of their 2016-2017 issue of the literary magazine. Stacks of the glossy black magazine covered a table directly in front of the doors while a table of snacks provided not only goat cheese and crackers, but a variety of fruit and dips.
After guests had time to pick up a copy of the magazine, talk with the many professors and students present, and find a seat in the back of the house, David Provost (C’17) gave an introduction to the event.
Generating laughter right away, Provost said, “Thank you, McGriff, for letting us be pretentious and self-indulgent for 90 minutes” before continuing to thank both the magazine’s staff and faculty helpers.
The Mountain Goat Magazine contains poetry, short stories, nonfiction work, excerpts from dramas, and songs, all composed by Sewanee students. To the delight of the full crowd, many of these works were performed in the hour-and-a-half of readings. The first, second, and third place winners of the Bain-Swigget prize for poetry read first, with their works followed by short story readings and several pieces of music presented by the songwriters.
The evening sun streamed through the arched windows in the backroom as Sewanee students presented their work. Some seemed ecstatic to share their work, others were decidedly more nervous; but nevertheless, those gathered clapped and hooted for friends and fellow students despite their level of excitement.
Nathaniel Nelson (C’16) won the Bain-Swigget poetry prize this year with his work, “The Ear.” He recalls that he crafted this specific work in Professor Prunty’s poetry class. The professor’s guidelines called for a descriptive rhyming poem in iambic pentameter, and Nelson said that he decided “if I was going to write something that specific, I was going to make it as weird as I could.”
As effortless as it all seems, the Mountain Goat Staff has many steps they must complete before poetry like Nelson’s is published. Editor-in-Chief Brook Vann (C’18) described the process, explaining that first semester they generate awareness for the magazine through bringing authors like poet Tiana Clark to Sewanee’s campus. Throughout second semester, the staff compiles submissions and goes through the editing process. Finally, they plan the cover, content, and layout meticulously before sending the plans for publishing.
“In 1925, it was started, and they released a magazine every year [since then]. In 2007, they added songs and art. It’s always been a student run publication,” said Vann. She seemed pleased both by the outcome of the magazine and the turnout for the event.