By Megan Perry
Writers for this year’s Milestone poured out their thoughtful words to an anticipating audience at the release party last Thursday in the P2 Proscenium Theater.
The Milestone is an annual literary magazine that gives students at East Los Angeles College an opportunity to have their creative writing pieces published.
This year was the first year in more than 30 years that the English Department published and put out the Milestone with funds from book sales and last year’s leftover money.
Joan Gurfield, English professor and Milestone editor, said the budget doesn’t allow for any more money for student services like the Milestone, so they had to find funds elsewhere.
Although a number of writers were published, only six writers took their turn at the podium to read their literary pieces aloud to the audience.
This was Joshua Castro’s first time being published in the Milestone, and he wanted to make it memorable.
Castro read his short story “Julio Buys a Skirt” wearing a T-shirt covered in printed mustaches and a knee-length skirt.
Castro said that he wrote this short story as a comical social satire to let others know that it’s OK to embrace the fear of things unknown. “It’s just telling guys don’t be afraid to try it,” he said.
A lot of the short story is based off Castro’s personal experience with wearing a skirt, Castro said.
Julio was a man who was nervous and embarrassed about buying a kilt, but loved the way it felt when he wore it.
“The person in my head who I envisioned was a friend of mine, but a lot of his (Julio’s) personality traits are kind of like mine,” Castro said.
He said he put Julio in a skirt just to see what would happen, what he could do with and to see how others would deal with it.
“I appreciate that ELAC has Milestone for people who want to write and share their stuff. It’s not really easy nowadays, because a lot of people don’t read,” Castro said.
Castro needed an outlet for his creativity. “I had to search for magazines who accepted short stories and stuff. They’re really hard to find, so to find one here on campus is really convenient.”
Another writer who spoke to the audience was Micheal Alexander Bercerra.
Bercerra wrote a short story entitled “The French Press,” which was about a racist coffee maker.
Bercerra received strong reactions from the audience, one member saying “that was genius” as Bercerra walked off stage.
“The French Press” was different, yet interesting.
It was about a coffee machine that talked and would say racist remarks at inappropriate moments to unexpecting people, which the audience enjoyed.
Ehecatl Negrete kicked off the reading with his poem entitled, “Is It Normal for an Eight-Year-Old?,” which was not published in the Milestone.
Negrete walked on the stage with an enormous personal journal and read the words right out of the place he created them.
He read with such passion and emotion, the audience couldn’t help but feel for his powerful words.
Negrete then read the published poem “Covered in Mold.” He said he didn’t send in the most updated title to his poem, which he said was “Purple Jelly.”
Mouths dropped and minds wondered as Negrete read his thoughtful words aloud:
“I extend my arms to smear the purple jelly on my inner thighs. My fingers are dancing in a rotten ballroom. Sheepish hair, concealing mysterious bruises, I stand up and face a wall.”
Gurfield felt the Milestone went well this year.
She is one of the judges and editors for the annual publication, and said that she judges based on ideas.
Gurfield said she wants to see something fresh, creative or interesting. She likes to see a different slant on something or an expression of individuality.
Since they only accept about one-third of the applicants, she said submission does not necessarily mean acceptance.
Castro said a short story that took him about three hours to write, wound up costing him a year in rewriting and editing for publication.
Gurfield said, “Its a good opportunity for young students to express who they are…schools need a venue where students can do that.”