"Being" blooms at Phoenix Night
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Westmont’s annual Phoenix Night featured over thirty artists, poets, and musicians Saturday evening in Porter Theater. The intimate and local venue of Porter was filled to the lobby with its audience of supporting students and peers as well as other published contributors. The Phoenix is Westmont’s annual literary, art, and music journal contributed to and edited by students.
This year, Kasey Iverson (Editor-in-Chief), Jenna Catalon (Music Editor), Makayla Monahan (Art Editor), and Nathan Tarr (Design Editor) oversaw the selection, design, and publication of the journal and album. Phoenix Night is a smaller sample of readings from the complete Phoenix itself and provides a unique space for the musical contributions as well as the physical art pieces to be exhibited.
Saturday night’s program order followed the organization of the Phoenix 58 album released on Spotify interspersed with select readings of poetry. In a recent interview with Jenna Catalon, she stated that arranging the setlist reflected the same considerations as the main ideas of the album in this year’s Phoenix theme of “Being.” The opening acts encompassed questions of not belonging or understanding different states of being and not being. “There is a halfway point in the night,” Catalon commented. “Where it transitions to more celebratory elements of being. We really just wanted to end on a big, kind of piece, which culminates into Mark Carlson’s ‘We Are Alive’ piece.”
The evening began with Joy Ferguson reading her original poem, “Smoke” that transitioned into questions with “Questions and Answers,” a rap by Troy Chimuma and Mo Mahjoub. The show included a diverse program both topically and stylistically, from an electronic remix of the traditional hymn of “This is My Father’s World” by Tom Hamlin to the one-man band presentation of “Tapestry” by Paul Jai.
The poetry discussed personal ponderings of the future, the tragic events of this year’s natural disasters, as well as reflecting on the beauty of the world that we inhabit. Illana Baer’s poem, “Remnant,” preceded the finale of Mark Carlson’s instrumental song by discussing the small beauties and gifts of God’s creation. As performers were welcomed back on stage as Carlson’s song played, the team of editors released balloons into the audience so that they too could join the celebration.
“[From the] ‘being is being’ standpoint,” Catalon commented of her hopes for an audience member’s takeaway, “to that connection of ‘oh I’ve experienced that’ or ‘I’ve also felt that as a human being.’ And I think there’s a lot of opportunities [for that] in the different representations of being.”
For freshman Bradford Ellzey’s first attendance to Phoenix Night he couldn’t help but leave feeling inspired, “It was so great to see peers being so expressive about things that I don’t ever talk about. Even the ups and downs of life were glorified. I like that we all just partied at the end.” Uniquely, Phoenix Night was held the same weekend as Westmont’s Fringe Festival and as Iverson commented, the pairing of both events featured a “Whole representation of Westmont in one weekend.”