A Defining Evening

A Defining Evening

OPWCBy Robert Laurence

Weltschmerz (VELT-schmerts) n. Anguish caused by the perceived difference between what the world is and what it ought to be. Common in teenagers. [German: “world pain”].

Connote (ke-NOTE) tr.v. To suggest or imply in addition to literal meaning. Ant: “denote.” [Medieval Latin: “to mark in addition”].

Connotations (kon-e-TA-shunz) n. pl. The award-winning Fayetteville High School literary magazine.

Nightbird (NITE-burd) n. 1. Mythical book-selling member of class Aves. 2. The jewel of Dickson Street.

Continuing a long-standing tradition, and newly a part of Fayetteville’s Poetry Month, the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective will host the launch of the 2014 edition of Connotations, on Tuesday, April 29th, 7:00 pm at Nightbird Books on Dickson Street in Fayetteville. The public is invited, there is no charge for the event, and Connotations will be available for purchase.

This year’s edition – the thirty-first in an unbroken yearly string – has as its theme “Weltschmerz,” a world-weariness, sometimes disappointment, sometimes sorrow, occasionally anger or rage. “One tries to be cynical,” some wag said, “but it’s hard to keep up.” But cynicism, thank God, is strictly an adult response to the world. Teenagers are too fresh and young for it. Weltschmerz, on the other hand, requires an underlying hopefulness. Hopes dashed maybe, unmet maybe, but with new energy for new hope.

It’s not that the editors of Connotations XXXI set out to be particularly weltschmerzy. The call went out for contributions – poetry, prose, art – and they discerned a certain weltschmerzification of the responses, a theme around which the submissions seemed to collect. (Those editors, incidentally, are Natasha Raezer and Grace Santos, co-editors-in-chief, Julia Smith, writing editor, Sarah Williams, art editor, Kaylin Dunn, photo editor, and Amanda Millan, design editor.) For example, Annalee Odum dreams of a wedding at Chuck E. Cheese in “Where a Bride Can Be a Bride.” In “My Mother Sees My Father Wherever She Looks,” Michelle Qiu writes, “the hue of my eyes serves as a daily reminder/of his once innocuous ones./i’m sorry, mother, i would overcome the dominant gene for your happiness.” And in “Vulnerability,” Annie Molesso writes “i want to know the person/whose voice creaks/as they fall asleep,/like the stairs in my old house.”

But not all; some entries in the magazine are weltschmerz-ish, at best. For example, Eli Rickard in “Sunbathed Straw Hat,” writes “In a field of corn, forever crisp from the light. Holding the life and giving shade to a realizing youth. Coming to his senses. Opening his eyes while wearing his Grandfather’s hat and his Father’s boots.” And in “Scratch That,” Julia Smith writes, “I’m waiting for the day/when we wear cats instead of scarves;/they will drape themselves over the backs/of our necks/and let their tails droop/across our throats/and stick cold noses into our ears.”

Weltschmertz or no, nice words. The art, too, is impressively done, but is beyond my verbal ability to describe. You’ll just have to attend the launch of Connotations XXXI and see for yourself. April 29th, Tuesday night. Nightbird. As always, before and after the students read from their lit mag, as they call it, there will be an open microphone, into which members of the community are invited to read four minutes’ worth of poetry or prose, memoir or song. Please stop by.


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