Michael Darcher’s final release event for newest SLAM
Rewards and Readings were given in opening reception for 18th issue for the Student Literary Arts Magazine
May 17, 2016
“SLAM has always been about collaboration,” Darcher said in his opening speech. “And this issue is no different from its predecessors in that regard.”
That literary magazine became SLAM, whose reception was held on May 3, celebrating the release of the 18th issue of the magazine.
This reception was particularly special since it was the last of Darcher’s involvement in SLAM’s release, due to him retiring at the end of Spring Quarter. SLAM will continue to exist after Darcher leaves, with Corrina Wycoff taking the reigns as SLAM’s Program Coordinator.
Darcher acknowledged the editors that worked on this issue of SLAM. “They do all the work and I get paid for it,” Darcher jested, “It’s a perfect system.”
Darcher commemorated the work of the editorial board that consisted of Corrina Wycoff, Heather Frankland, Audrey Scarborough, Zoe Fisher, Kelsey Short, Amy Todd, MyQueena Allain-Pendergrass, Keith Fincham, and Lauren Betzina.
Darcher handed out checks to students who were selected for particular awards, namely The Elizabeth Breen Prose Award that was given to Breanna Harris for her story “Star-Crossed.” Other students who received different awards were Charles Burt and Lori Brock for the Cherry Tinker Art Award, Rachel Watson who won the Brian Martin Cover Design Award, and lastly, Allain-Pendergrass and Nicole Robertson who won the Susan Wallace Poetry Award.
Darcher also praised the work of Brian Martin who was in charge of the layout and design, saying that SLAM wouldn’t have gotten where it has without his help.
“Each issue has its particular strengths,” Darcher said in his speech, “This year had especially good poetry.”
Students then went up on stage to read their poems, as well as actors and actresses from the theatre department who went up to read some selected poems.
One poem that was read by Robertson was called “Memories of Mother,” a poem talking about a young girl living with her drug addict mother, one excerpt at the end of the poem says, “Twelve years later and she still hasn’t come home. I think she’s in the sky, either high or dead.”
After the event, Roberston discussed another one of her poems in SLAM called “Death,” a poem about the death of her uncle from a drunk car accident, and what her two year old cousin said that she felt was truly eye opening in her coping with the grief.
Aside from “Death,” Robertson wrote most of her poems about her mother,“I don’t really write to read aloud,” she said, “I write really more for myself.” Robertson then went on to talk about how she believed the poems were her way of expressing her feelings onto the page to help herself cope with her mother’s disappearance, “Mr. Darcher always said ‘writers write to be heard.’”
Robertson said she was grateful for Darcher’s work and encouragement, “Mr. Darcher’s class is the reason why I want to be a writer now,” Robertson said, beginning to tear up, “This has been an amazing experience for me, because now I’m a published writer!”
Robertson then said she had never really won an award before this, and said Darcher feels like family, and concluded, “He has really inspired me to follow writing.”
At the end of the event, Patrick Daugherty stood up and commended Darcher’s work and influence on both this school, its students, and the perseverance of SLAM. Darcher then received a standing ovation from the over 100 attendees for his work over the years.
Darcher’s reflection on history of SLAM, and a retrospect on the development of latest issue:
When Michael Darcher arrived at Pierce College, he noticed there wasn’t a student literary magazine, “Given the population and diversity of our student population, this surprised me.”
Darcher has worked at the college for about 20 years, and is a long-time English professor here at the Fort Steilacoom campus, and is retiring after Spring Quarter.
“When we were first trying to get the kite off the ground, there was an old barista stand that had donated $7000 to the Pierce College Foundation,” Darcher said. “My first thought was, ‘Boy did I choose the wrong profession.’” Darcher knew from this that the school would have the funds for his idea of starting a literary magazine, he then submitted a request for a grant in hopes to start up a student literary magazine. The Foundation then gave them a $1000 grant, “And I felt that really legitimized us.”
When Darcher was pitching the idea to some of his colleagues, they made a clear point early on that the magazine should remain exclusively comprised of student works, “We felt that the talent, quality, and the quantity of student work here held great potential.”
According to Darcher, when SLAM first began, it was one of the first programs to be supported by both Campus S&A budgets, the other being than athletics, “If you will, we were the intellectual athletes.”
There was a controversy over the cover of this issue of SLAM, with the original art being a person with their arms spread out, with the person either falling or just flying over the bridge being up to interpretation. Darcher said that the decision making process has always been difficult for the editorial board, much more so than whatever content that is actually in the literary magazine. Some members believed that this art would send a damaging message to people who might have had experiences related to suicide.
Darcher personally disagreed, “I felt these contentions ran contrary to my notion of art,” he said, “I believe that art is suppose to provoke response.”
The board settled on the cover that is used now, done by Rachel Watson.
SLAM had been named best literary journal by the Washington Community Colleges Humanities Association (WCCHA). As well as in 1999, the Pierce County Arts Commission awarded Pierce College for its support of SLAM.