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Chuckles and chills filled All Hallows’ Read

The Press Café got a spooky thrill on October 29 with All Hallows’ Read, a Halloween-themed reading of scary poetry and short stories. Held by the English Student Association (ESA), the reading drew an intimate crowd of about 20 students.

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By Martin Castro (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: November 5, 2014

Vanessa Broadbent reads a poem in front of the audience in the Press Café. (Image:  Martin Castro/The Cascade)

Vanessa Broadbent reads a poem in front of the audience in the Press Café. (Image: Martin Castro/The Cascade)

The Press Café got a spooky thrill on October 29 with All Hallows’ Read, a Halloween-themed reading of scary poetry and short stories. Held by the English Students Association (ESA), the reading drew an intimate crowd of about 20 students.

Ashley Mussbacher of ESA and Amy Stafford of the Louden Singletree editorial board emceed the night. While attendees seemed hesitant  to read at first, as time passed, both presenters and members of the audience grew more comfortable, and various horror-themed poems and prose were read.

The first poem recited was Elizabeth Bachinsky’s “Wolf Lake,” which illustrated a kidnapping from the eyes of the victim. Short stories included “The Price” by Neil Gaiman, in which a black cat, of all creatures, takes on the role of a hero against a paranormal threat. The story, delivered in a soft cadence by Valerie Franklin, piqued the interest of listeners, as well as delivering a few chills among audience members; the room had adopted an eerie atmosphere by this point in the night.   

No Halloween literature reading would be complete without the weird musings of H.P. Lovecraft, which came in the form of the short story “Nyarlathotep,” which describes an ancient pharaoh’s activities after having woken up from centuries of sleep. Read in a dramatic style by Anthony Biondi, the narrative worked well to gain the audience’s undivided attention.

At roughly 8 p.m., a 10-minute break was called. Attendees reflected on the evening among themselves while indulging in the cupcakes, candy, and other Halloween-themed snacks provided. People commented on the stories and poetry being read, while the merits of the horror genre in literature were discussed among other people present. Despite the creepy vibe left over from the previous story, there were more chuckles than chills in the room.

Other readings followed, including another Neil Gaiman work titled “Instructions,” a reading of the three witches’ scene in Macbeth, and a short story written by Roald Dahl called “The Landlady,” which proved to be a hit among those listening.

As well as prepared readings, there was one instance of improvisational horror, which came courtesy of Greg Stickland and Simon Grant, who told a horror story in the style of Mad Libs, asking for a verb or noun at a time. Although the resulting product was perhaps more humorous than it was scary, it was well-received by all.

Ashley Mussbacher, Valerie Franklin, Vanessa Broadbent, and Anthony Biondi are employees of The Cascade.

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