PoeDown: a review by Ashley Brooks

By Ashley Brooks

The annual Chestatee Review PoeDown– where students and faculty gather to celebrate spooky literature, both their own works and the works of others. We decorated the Nesbitt ballroom with tombstones, bloody wrappings, cobwebs, and Halloween lights to give a creepy aesthetic, and we had plenty of candy, drinks, chips, and other treats to feed the guests. We played music and waited for people to show up, and it was not long after 6 p.m. that the seats began to fill up.

We advertised a Halloween/horror themed Flash Fiction contest throughout the month of October, which resulted in a bunch of great submissions for the judges to decide on for first, second, and third place winners. Now, I wrote a few slightly creepy short pieces over the summer, but I decided against submitting them to the contest because they were more psychologically disturbing rather than paranormally disturbing. You can imagine my surprise when the title of one of my stories was called as the second place prize winner. I guess sober Ashley doesn’t think her writing is worthy of submission, but drunk Ashley has other ideas… thanks, drunk Ashley. That fifteen dollar Starbucks gift card will certainly come in handy as this insane semester draws to a close. The first place Flash Fiction winner wasn’t in attendance to claim their prize. Maybe they, like me, forgot they’d even submitted anything! The third place winner was in attendance, and unlike me, he was even prepared enough to read his winning poem aloud for the audience. Bravo, Caleb!

After the Flash Fiction contest, we did the costume contest. There was only three people with costumes, and they were all so nice looking and original. There could only be one winner, and that winner was a pirate whose entire costume/cosplay was made by hand. As the PoeDown went on, other people showed up in costume and seemed a little disappointed that the contest was already over. Maybe next year we can do the contest toward the end of the event. That way, no one will be left out, and it will encourage people to stay the whole time.

After playing an obligatory reading of Poe’s The Raven, participants for the Open Mic portion started to come up to perform. Though we didn’t have as many readers for the PoeDown as we did for the Open Mic Night a few months prior, we dd have some new faces read some of their original poems, short stories, and even perform original songs with guitar accompaniment! In my opinion, the scariest poem the one written and read by Barbara Davis about math class. I’m shivering just thinking about it. We were also treated to a fantastic cover of “People are Strange” by The Doors. Talk about a good night.

The PoeDown ended a half an hour early, which was fine. Everyone seemed satisfied with the night’s festivities. Maybe next year we can incorporate a scary story read-aloud for those who have favorite works, but not necessarily their own original works. I for one would love to flash back to childhood by reading Tailypo by Diana Gabaldon, or read some of the chilling tales from Scary Stories to Read in the Dark. Just an idea!