Contrary to what some might think, The Philolexian Society—we who bring Columbia the annual Joyce Kilmer Bad Poetry Contest, play human chess on Low Steps or croquet on Lewisohn lawn, and host weekly debates (8:30 p.m. every Thursday, mostly in the Satow Room) on such important topics as “Resolved: It’s Better if It’s Not Your Own” or “Resolved: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems”—is not just an absurdist debate group, the unfortunate offspring of noir humour and Model U.N. We’re a literary society, too—in fits and starts, perhaps, or briefly and by apparent accident.
Fortunately, the Fall 2010 issue of Surgam was no accident. We planned during the summer, wore down our heels the first day of term begging at Morningside businesses for cash, advertised and inquired and emailed and budgeted, then selected, edited, typeset, copy-edited, and nitpicked. Newborns may merit more attention, but only by so much.
The product is well worth the effort. When running through submissions, we looked for no particular style or form: the issue ranges from Nathan Ratapu’s free-verse “Elderly Phone Calls” to the metered rhymes of Frederic Jennings’s “Signboard” to Alexandra Lukens’s almost prose-poetic “Memoirs of Twenty-Eight Numerical Orders.” We really looked only for deft, powerful writing that worked well in whatever form the author picked—and I quite think that every work displays just that.
And now the issue has come back from the printer’s and is all set to launch—at 4 p.m., Saturday, 4 December, in the East Ramp Lounge in Lerner Hall, as a matter of fact. All are welcome to come hear readings from the latest issue and pick up copies of their own. Refreshments and repartee will be provided.
Gavin McGown CC ’13