The last print issue of the Phoenix was presented.
For the second edition of issue sixty for The Phoenix, UT’s literary arts magazine, enthusiasts gathered for a presentation of the newest work of student artists Tuesday evening.
Kaelynn Stewart opened the showcase with a reading of her poem “SAVOR,” which used the wordage of meat-curing. Amany Alshibli presented her work of etching and collage, “War.” Alshibi was inspired by the documentary “Children of Aleppo” and the dreams of kids in the city, which were not of cotton candy or whimsical worlds but simply of clean environments.
Sarah Stapleton read “Pantheon,” a poem mixed with mythological images. Sarah Ali read her poem “My Ancestors Evolved Into a Crybaby,” detailing the grief, guilt, and coping only associated with the loss of a friend and the loss of life in general.
John McAmis, UT alum and artist, described his intentions behind his ink work “The Hub.” With a big heart for architecture, McAmis portrays a contrast of urban development against urban renewal. The piece presented his desire to do otherworldly things by showing a demolition taking place. Its depiction of a train passing through a giant tree served as a hyperbolic version of cars that are able to fit through redwoods, urban fitting betwixt nature.
“It’s cool to be a part of this really unique, artistic celebration that The Phoenix does that’s not like anything else on campus,” McAmis said. “I think they do a really good job of curating and picking really exceptional pieces of work.”
McAmis said the majority of his inspiration comes from living in Knoxville and the disagreements he has with the city.
“I don’t really agree with the architectural politics that Knoxville kind of plays, especially UT. (They are) raising completely normal dorms and building really ugly things that I’ve heard are only supposed to last a few decades, which doesn’t seem really sustainable or cost effective to me,” McAmis said. “It just comes from living in Knoxville and seeing these beautiful buildings get destroyed and having these very ordinary, kind of crowd-pleasing things get built.”
Caleb Pittenger read his poem “God Among Us,” zeroing in on a moment when all that mattered for a woman was scooping chili with a corndog, while all that mattered for the speaker was the woman. The work is based on an actual occurrence Pittenger witnessed on campus after a festival.
Kelli Frawley read two poems she had written while she was taking UT's Dreamworks class, where students are taught to write from their dreams. “Moss” focused on her brother’s untimely death, her inability to let him go and the declaration to fall with him. One line read, “Outrageous to think one could come to death escorted.” “In the Freezer Aisle” focuses on excitement stemming from a Costco sale, buying cheesecake in bulk, “the end of empty living rooms and ramen.”
The Phoenix also features non-literary works of art such as Kelly Moore's sculpture “Hapa Gourd.” Moore grew up in a mixed Caucasian and Asian household, and her work exemplified the outward appearances that separate her from other members of her family: her hair and eyes. Yet the piece holds onto the familial ties, as the artist explained her grandfather’s collection of gourds being given to her.
The night returned to poetry, and Nancy Truett read her work “Voice,” also produced in a Dreamworks class. In the poem, melting in a fire produced a form of rebirth in the blooming of red roses. Vincenzina Monteleone read from the only published piece of prose in the edition, “Smoother Than Oil, Bitter as Wormwood.” An incredibly detailed fiction piece, the work produces a connection with the reader in setting and relationships.
The night concluded with Ethan Sexton's poem, “Children Who Have Breathed Tragedy.” The poem's speaker watched his siblings gradually share older outlooks and experiences after not having their father around.
“I mainly came because I had a few friends presenting, but I do respect the way The Phoenix operates and the things it stands for, so I usually try to come out to things like this. And I think they did a really good job showing art, poetry, all sorts of stuff,” Bailey Vaughters, a student attendee, said.
Michaela Roach, Editor-In-Chief of The Phoenix, wrapped up her final showcase and semester with the magazine, as she is graduating this spring. Speaking of her staff, she said her favorite part is watching people come in that are very dedicated to the process. At the end of the semester, they are able to have a “tangible, beautiful product that we can all be proud of.”
She continued on to discuss some of the overarching themes from the submissions, including many abstract art pieces.
“We did get a lot of abstract art pieces this semester. They were all very colorful, and that was really nice because (during) my very first semester of being editor-in-chief, almost every art submission we got was in black and white,” Roach said.
Roach explained that the magazine is going digital, which is positive for the staff because they no longer have to deal with pagination and printing costs.
“We now have this limitless digital format where we can feature artworks by multiple artists and larger fiction/nonfiction pieces,” Roach said. “It’s been really great to watch that expansion and be able to accept everyone that we want to and not just limit it to, 'We have thirty-two pages; how much can we fit in here and still make it look clean?'”
“I really appreciate everyone taking some time to come and engage with these art pieces and learn a little bit more about these authors and artists,” Roach said in conclusion.
Further content for the latest Phoenix edition, including a nonfiction piece and a one-act play, may be found at www.phoenixmagazine.net.