The release of the 40th volume of High Grade, Mines’ literary journal of creative works from its faculty and student body, was a major success. The room filled up quickly when the doors opened at 5:00 p.m. and more people trickled in further on into the event.
The CSM String Quartet played soft music during the first half hour as people noshed on delectable appetizers and perused this year’s version of High Grade: a compilation of nearly a hundred short stories, poems, artwork, and photographs. Another selection of works, the spoken word poems and music submissions, is online at highgrade.mines.edu.
After the initial reception, Toni Lefton, High Grade’s faculty advisor, took the podium to introduce Frances Richardson and Richard Sebastian-Coleman, High Grade’s co-editors in chief. Richardson read the wise words of George Saunders, a Mines grad turned writer, and then turned the floor over to some of this year’s contributors.
Grad student Phil Persson read two of his featured poems, “Motel 6” and “Shoshone Creek” and then passed on the microphone to Wenli Dickinson who read “24 Hours” and “I Looked Over Jordan”. Both poets varied in style but the poems carried similar levels of gravity and left the audience with something new to chew on. Derek Jacobsen, who wrote an excitingly styled short story titled “Life on Repeat”, read an excerpt of his piece—and then two other excerpts later in the program.
Molly Baron, Olivia Cordova, Matthew Kowalsky, Misha Lantsov, Sujee Park, Frances Richardson, Simona Smith, and J. West also read poems to the crowd. Half way through the CSM swing team, the Slide Rulers performed the choreographed pieces from their intercollegiate swing battle in mid-April.
The High Grade release party is just one more example of the creativity and individual thought that takes place, unbeknownst to most, behind Mines’ closed doors.
Above: The High Grade executive team of 2015-2016 holds the newly published magazine. This year’s edition features nearly a hundred student submissions. Photo by Nhan Tran.