Culture / featured-column

The Olivetree Review celebrates its 65th edition, ’80s style

The members of the Olivetree Review saluted the attire and the spirit of the ‘70s and ‘80s for their last open mic night of the school year, wearing the side high pony and electric blue eyeshadow to celebrate the 65th edition of the club’s signature event.

The student-run literary journal, which features student writing and artwork, has been a tradition at Hunter College since 1983. It receives anywhere between 300 and 600 submissions each semester and chooses about 10 percent to publish across all categories; poetry, drama and prose. After the selection process is finalized for literature, students can submit their photography for a chance to be featured on the cover. This semester’s edition features Robert Matejceks photograph, “Tableaux Automatique Pink Lemonade Semigloss.”

The club’s secretary, Meghan Elberti, says the staff creates a very entertaining and spirited environment.

“I was worried about fitting in right away because I’m from Long Island, not from the city,” Elberti said. So it was just a different culture and I was kind of worried about that, but with one day of being in the office I just immediately synced in. They’re like family but we work really well together.”

The idea behind hosting the open-mic night every semester is to show the Hunter community the wide range of student talent. The acts are mainly speeches, but open mic night is open to all different expressions of creativity (within reason). Members of the club encourage attendees to get up to the mic and show the audience what art means to them.

“They truly show us how much a community we really are and how much Olivetree has inspired them,” said Srinidhi Rao, one of the journals publicists.

The event, hosted in the glass cafeteria, was considerably crowded for a Wednesday at 7 p.m. The seats continued to fill as the night went on. From the start of the event, students were lined up to present their work. The ones willing to go first twiddled their thumbs and wore nervous smiles.

“I’m going to be reading poetry tonight. I started in high school but I’ve always been the creative type. I like to write mostly about fantasy things. I’ve come to a couple of open mics and the first times I came alone and didn’t really present,” said Nicol Tannhauser, who plans to double major in media and gender media studies. “First I watched, then I came alone and presented once, and now here I’m back again. It was a gradual experience but it’s great to have the opportunity.”

Many students presenting shared their poetry and songs. The audience listened carefully even though the outside commotion from the hallways and food table was booming. The staff made an effort to keep everything organized and they worked as a guide for each newcomer.

There were ivy leaves hung on the doorways and club members wore olive branch crowns. As the evening went on, the ivy leaves were wound in attendees hair and balloons were tossed around. People became more comfortable as the line for presentations grew longer. Aside from poetry, many students performed songs. The audience turned their cellphone flashlights on and waved them in the air to melodies being played. The music and vibe was captivating and the room’s excitement rose as the time ticked on.

“I was planning to present poetry but now I think I’m going to do something a little out of the box. I’ll do poetry and a song,” said Cat Meza before she took the stage.

The Olivetree Review also hosts popular weekly workshops – run by members of the club — in the arts, including poetry, short story writing, visual art and drama. Emily Molina, who read her poetry that night, said she attends as many workshops as she can, and they have helped her become a better writer.

I realized you don’t need to only write for school, you can write things for yourself,” said Molina, who started writing in high school. “Poetry doesn’t need to be a sonnet or have to rhyme every line. Once I realized poetry can be fluid, I started writing to express my feelings. A lot of my poems are not dark but not light-hearted, they’re just about my life.”

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