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Sonya Huber, editor of “Dogwood,” and Gordon Skinner, cover artist, standing next to “Jesus Piece.”  Photo by Bryan Crandall/Fairfield University English Department

Fairfield’s literary journal, “Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose,” celebrated its rebirth with a launch event for its spring 2013 issue on April 18.

Contributing writers and student editors gathered in the Fairfield University Bookstore on Thursday night to see the result of their yearlong efforts.

Among the many individuals who wrote for “Dogwood” this year, three were selected as first place winners in their respected areas which included: Lizzie Reinhard, in the fiction category for her work, “Shark,” Sarah Hollenbeck, in the nonfiction category for her work, “A Goldmine,” and Geffery Davis, in the poetry category for his work, “What We Set In Motion.”

Out of the three first place winners, Hollenback was selected to win the overall grand prize of $1,000. “Shark,” as described by nonfiction judge and cultural anthropologist Adriana Páramo, “moves the reader, invites her to think, and challenges her world in a new way.”

Other judges included Roxane Gay, fiction judge and columnist for Salon and Adrian Matejka, poetry judge, author, and professor of creative writing at Indiana University.

Four student writers were selected to read their works aloud at the event. Students included juniors Kalee Brunelle and Zoe Capobianco and seniors Chris Schelzi, Pedro Ramírez and Nicole Heller.

The event also highlighted the journal’s new cover and logo design. New Haven-based artist Gordon Skinner allowed the journal to use his painting, “Jesus Piece – Self Portrait at 27.”

Skinner began his craft three years ago. In a pamphlet handed out to the event’s attendees, Skinner refers to his artwork as “integrity art” and “seeks to communicate the complexities of identity in both “a raw and honest way.”

Skinner stated that his reason for painting “Jesus Piece” was because he “wanted to do something that was iconic and that many people are able to identity with.”

Most of Skinner’s paintings are abstract and related to his journey from childhood to adulthood.

Sonya Huber, assistant professor of English and editor of “Dogwood,” believes that Skinner’s abstractness in his paintings works well with the pieces that were displayed in this year’s issue.

Huber explained that although the painting is of a classical figure, Jesus Christ, she believes that Skinner depicted Jesus in a very approachable and unique way.

The current spring 2013 issue on display. Kaitlin McEwan/The Mirror

The current spring 2013 issue on display. Kaitlin McEwan/The Mirror

When Huber first saw this piece at a gallery and explained that she was “immediately struck by the vividness of the painting.” Like the painting itself, Huber wanted all of the work that was going into this journal to be as dynamic and colorful as “Jesus Piece- Self Portrait at 27.”

The unique cover caught many people’s attention. Senior Shannon McGuirk said, “It’s really cool and eye-catching because there are so many different aspects to look at and relate back to the works [in ‘Dogwood.’]”

Other students, like Brunelle, have been through putting together “Dogwood,” in their English classes, along with editing all of the pieces found in the journal.

“I thought the event was so great. I was really surprised by all of the talent that was at the event, along with in the journal,” said Brunelle, one of the 16 associate editors.

Brunelle explained she thought that having the launch event was a “jump-start” for “Dogwood” because not many Fairfield students knew what “Dogwood” was or that it even existed.

“Now that we had this event, I think [Dogwood] will become more popular and a lot more people will know about it,” said Brunelle.

After the previous editor of “Dogwood” left, the journal remained on hiatus for the 2010-2011 school year. Huber was then hired as the editor of “Dogwood.” She knew the journal needed to be re-constructed.

The improved “Dogwood” is considered to be “a melding of new and old,” said Huber.

More than 40 students attended the launch event and many are optimistic about the future of “Dogwood.”

Xhensila Spahiu ’15 said: “’Dogwood’ is back and better than ever.”

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