Red Earth tradition continues
One evening early last week, dozens of students crowded into the tiny basement of Blackbird Coffee.
They were there for the first Red Earth Reading of the semester.
Tori Quante, a senior creative writing major and “Peacock’s Feet” staff member, says Red Earth can serve as a hands-on experience for upperclassmen who are about to graduate. Only creative writing majors may perform in Red Earth, but the magazine, “Peacock’s Feet,” accepts submissions from anyone – even from non-GC students and Milledgeville residents. There are typically only about three to four performers at every reading, and they are usually juniors and seniors.
“As long as I can remember, Red Earth Readings have been at Blackbird,” Quante said. “It really took off last year, and we’re hoping for the same or better turnout.”
Red Earth Readings are usually only once a month in the Fall semester, but this year there will also be readings in the spring. When asked about the origin of the name, Quante suggested that the name “red earth” might be based off the region, since Georgia is known for its red clay.
“Since we’ve added music, we’ve been getting more people, and it’s been more entertaining,” Rachel Estridge, senior creative writing major and poetry editor for the “Peacock’s Feet,” said.
Emilie Yardley-Hodges, a sophomore creative writing and art history major, stated that these readings are usually on Monday because it’s a good day. Most of the other days have something going on.
“We try to figure out when the schedule’s open,” Yardley-Hodges said.
Emilie is also the fiction editor for the “Peacock’s Feet.” Many of the “Peacock’s Feet” staff members encourage creative writing majors to perform at Red Earth or submit their work to the magazine, since they know so many of them personally.
That night the performances were divided up into music, fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. The audience and performer had a casual, but respectful, relationship with one another. Despite the noise coming from upstairs, it was not enough to distract anyone from listening intently. When someone was talking on stage, it was hard to hear anything else but what they said.
The first performance featured music by Brandon Dudley and his accordion, nicknamed “Ruby”. It may be hard to believe that a person could play the accordion, the tambourine, stomp on the ground and sing all at once, but Dudley managed to pull it off. It was, in his words, “experimental.”
Matthew Thompson read his fictional piece and Mary McBrayer, a graduate student studying to get her MFA in creative writing, read a creative nonfiction piece. Both stories were engaging. It was reminiscent of being read to by one’s parents during childhood.
Marissa Lee, senior creative writing major, presented her poems at Red Earth, five out of six being her own. The first was called “Dear Drought,” written by Amy Beeder.
“When you’re introducing a body of work, it’s good to introduce a common theme,” Lee said, explaining that the common theme between her work and “Dear Drought” was that they had a similar rhythm.
All were written in iambic pentameter. Lee said that she read her work in Red Earth as practice for her senior capstone. When writing, she does not always intend to give her work a specific meter.
“If that’s what I’m going for, then I try to make it that way,” Lee remarked.
For those who missed the first reading, a second Red Earth Reading will take place on October 22, same time and same place, with new and different performances that are sure to be enjoyed.