Silver Quill offers thrills

Nov. 23, 2008, midnight | By Jeremy Gradwohl | 11 years, 11 months ago

Literary magazine hosts first open mic

The juniors sat in front of a crowd at least one hundred strong. Alex Denton instructed the crowd to clap along with his next song, a cover of Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane." But the eager crowd started clapping before an antsy Denton, with Ezekiel Leeds on guitar, could begin. "No, you guys aren't supposed to clap until we start," Denton said, and the crowd tittered. Denton gave a signal as Leeds opened the soothing melody on his acoustic guitar. The crowd started clapping again. This time, they got it right. And they liked it.

Silver Quill, Blair's literary arts magazine, held its first open mic during 5A and 5B lunches in the media center on Thursday. Blair students recited poetry and sang songs while cookies and refreshments were served. "We had a wide range of performances: poetry of all kinds, music of all kinds, prose and jokes," senior Giovanna Selvaggio, Silver Quill's managing editor, said.

The event was the first of many Silver Quill open mics planned. Sponsor Miriam Plotinsky plans to hold open mics during lunch each month. "With these monthly open mics, we are trying to reach out to whole student body of Blair," Plotinsky says. Silver Quill will host the next open mic on Dec. 19.

The audience settled around tables in the media center, with an impromptu stage set up in a computer alcove. White paper was spread over the tables and the audience was invited to draw on it with crayons and talk between acts. One by one, performers came in front of the audience and to perform, some with original work. Among the performers was technology education teacher Christopher Harrison, who sang a song for the crowd.

Selvaggio was pleased with the hearty applause after each performance. "The audience seemed enthusiastic and excited to be there," Selvaggio said.

As the junior guitar duo finished up their act to one of Selvaggio's proud applauses, they engaged in an exaggerated high five. "It felt great performing in front of all of my friends," Denton said. "I'll be performing at the next one for sure."

Silver Quill has an award-winning legacy, receiving gold medals from both the Maryland Scholastic Press Association and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association this year. The literary magazine celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, as it publishes an issue each spring. This year's theme for the publication is "Terra Incognita," a Latin phrase used by early explorers meaning "uncharted lands." Plotinsky plans to expand upon last year's edition, fundraising for a higher quality, more expensive issue. "I'm trying to make it a big, awesome, colorful issue," she said.

The open mics are simply a cog in Silver Quill's master plan. The executive staff of Silver Quill continues to try to connect to the entire Blair population. Plotinsky described the publication's mission as showing the community the best of Blair's literary artistic voices. "A lot of people don't realize what high school students can do and I think Silver Quill is a good venue to show them what these students can do," Plotinsky said. "In order to do that, we have to reach out to the greater Blair." Plotinsky said she is working to reach out to ESOL students and convince others to submit work in other languages.

Silver Quill Editor-in-Chief junior Adam Detzner beamed as he stood at the lectern in front of the crowd gathered in the serene media center. He addressed the crowd: "Would anybody want to do this kind of thing again?" The answer - an overwhelming "yes." The audience spoke quietly amongst themselves, snacking and coloring, waiting to nod their heads to a mellow Velvet Underground cover.

Jeremy Gradwohl. Jeremy is a good, upstanding citizen. He likes the city of Takoma Park, baseball, good music and the Orioles back in the day when they had Cal Ripken Jr. Nature also plays a big part in his life. More »

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