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INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY

Harpur Palate draws submissions from around the world

By : Rachel Coker


In a lounge near the Bartle Library coffee kiosk, writers gather many times each week to pore over dozens of poems and short stories.

These students are hard at work on Harpur Palate, a literary journal produced on campus that highlights material from around the world.

“It’s a support system,” said Maggie Gerrity, a graduate student in English who is associate editor. “Writing is a very solitary act. This is a chance to sit down and share what we love.”

The journal, founded in 2001 by a graduate student, is published twice a year. Two contests — one for fiction and one for poetry, each with a $500 prize and the promise of publication — attract thousands of entries.

About 30 student-readers participated last year and Editor Catherine Dent expects more people to be involved this year. She notes that Harpur Palate publishes the best material it receives, with no special attention given to writers with a Binghamton connection.

Still, “another goal is to promote a literary community on campus,” Dent added. She and several other graduate students in English also use the journal as a text in classes they teach, where its breadth is a distinct advantage.

The readers bring different aesthetics to the process, but ultimately they usually reach consensus on quality work, said Deborah Poe, poetry editor. She cited Sean Thomas Dougherty’s What We Keep as an example of a piece with an unusual style.

“Every semester I read at least a few things that really excite me and make me glad this is my chosen profession,” Gerrity agreed. Gerrity said she hopes the journal will continue to publish writers whose names people recognize alongside writers whose names people will recognize someday.

Dent said she envisions a time when English students will choose to attend Binghamton University because they’ve heard of Harpur Palate and the vibrant literary community on campus.

She’d like to do a hunger-themed issue to play off the journal’s name and get a famous poet to write a poem that would be printed in edible ink on edible paper.

The group already has T-shirts that say: “Eat our words.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08