Volition - Spring 2021

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Volume 30

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CONTENTS POETRY Safiya Khan Eugene Pierson Candice Stanfield Simeon Washington Carolyn Klein Ana Pugatch Sarah Lucine Ana Pugatch Michael Malatesta

The Earth Teaches Me | 5 A Silhouette | 7 In Nature Grand | 34 Anxiety/Meditation | 8 The Angel in the Sky | 11 In Memory, a Castaway | 15 I, Miss Polaris | 24 Heather, Lily, Season | 16 Patchwork Doll | 22 The Clearing | 26 The Rain | 33

PROSE Lara Mercado Taj Kokayi

Chasing Sunsets | 12 The Girl in the Mirror | 19 Hickory | 28 African Ammunition | 36

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ART & PHOTOGRAPHY Tamira Colbert Zainab Samsudeen Andrew Savino Kristin Zhai Rebecca Jackson Briana Walton Abigail Cairns Sharmin Hossain

Andrew Savino Rachel Weier Miranda Sandoval Brianna Camp

Finding a way out | Cover She’s Always watching | 4 Closed | 25 The Silhouette | 6 Absence of Warmth | 9 Self Healing | 14 Hummingbird | 10 Human Complexity | 23 I’ve Been Feelin’ a lil’ Blue | 13 Watch Me | 17 The Women’s Journal | 18 Energy | 20 Culture | 21 The Final Hour | 27 Oddity | 32 Joy (χαρά) | 35 Growing, Healing, and the Hope For Brighter Days | 38

MISSION STATEMENT Volition serves to elevate the creative capacity of the Mason community by fostering freedom of expression across diverse mediums.

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She’s Always Watching | Zainab Samsudeen | Art 4 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 4

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The Earth Teaches Me that creation is beautiful that light coexists with darkness as its nosy neighbor that trees remain to stand tall regardless of the evil rotting around their roots that life grows out of the ashes and rain washes away the pain. the Earth teaches me that change can be beautiful even though it’s difficult to adjust to. that just like clouds look like beds of comfort not everything is as it seems to be. that the silence that comes with snowfall isn’t always a bad thing. the Earth teaches me that not every good thing is earned and that nature must be treasured, protected, and loved. only then will it remain sustainable the Earth has taught me that truth isn’t always easy to find it may lie under layers of soil and debris but once it touches you, it embeds itself into the roots of your soul.

| Safiya Khan 5 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 5

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Silhouette | Andrew Savino | Art 6 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 6

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A Silhouette A puddle of water, Collecting dust and dirt, May now be a slaughter, A death of all my hurt. Faces fade one by one-A childhood friend from all The days of golden sun-In darkness as they fall. To seek with no response, The forgotten faces Lost in the nonchalance Of heart-to-heart traces. From my tears and my sweat, From the corner of my eye, Appears a silhouette: An exchange of goodbye.

| Eugene Pierson 7 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 7

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Anxiety/Meditation 1. Anxiety. I sense existence where none should exist, vacant corridors billow—clamor for light Head full: breath shallow/quick/erratic; Creeping in the foreground, Sharp static crackles into pops Walls cave, clarity disintegrates. 2. Meditation. I sense windows where none could exist, spectral peripheries daze—beyond the pale

Eyes close: breath deep/slow/deliberate; Buzzing in the distance, Smooth streams flow into shapes

Walls fade, obscurity dissipates.

| Candice Stanfield 8 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 8

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An Absence of Warmth | Kristin Zhai | Art 9 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 9

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Hummingbird | Rebecca Jackson | Art 10 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 10

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The Angel in the Sky My forms are many, Yet I am formless. Look as long as you like, Never expect the same shape twice. In the wan dawn light of sky, I dance on dust and water. Maneuvering about the sun Compelled to shrink and expand. The horizon is my ballroom, For there I shall never set. My meridian: thin and wispy; My equator: milky and full. With each of my pirouettes The wind grows bellicose My gentle arms betray And the land is painted morose. Though they may peter out, My gales are calls of joy. For I am the angel in the sky And my shapes are yours to enjoy.

| Simeon Washington

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Chasing Sunsets If you take a quick glance through my phone’s camera roll, you’ll most likely find an endless sea of sunset pictures. Some of them might be captured perfectly, taken on a vacation somewhere in Canada on a cold November evening. In this photo, shades of red, orange, and purple ink the sky with Quebec city’s historic buildings twinkling over the serene landscape. Other shots might not be so perfect. Some images might be blurred and crooked, like the one quickly taken in my car at a stoplight on an intersection just minutes away from home. Still, I was desperate to capture the small satisfaction of watching the sun set after a long day at work. I’m not entirely sure how or when this sentimental habit of mine began, but chasing sunsets has become a natural part of my life. I could be anywhere, doing anything or absolutely nothing at all, and I would drop whatever I’m doing to look up at the sky for a moment and watch the colors there shift and change before my eyes. I don’t really think about how my fingers will automatically search for my phone to snap a picture. Perhaps it might be cheesy or cliché, but I remember every story behind each sunset picture I take. The date and time stamps in my camera roll document these exact moments, like rolls of film taken apart frame by frame. On January 26 at exactly 6 p.m., I am in Florida watching the sun set over the beach and pier. It’s the day after my birthday, and I’ve come to nurse a hangover from the previous night’s celebration with my sister. On March 29 at 7:20 pm, I’m picking up dinner for my family. A picturesque sky looms over a Popeyes building in the distance, and I can almost smell those Cajun fries I drool over every time. On June 7 at 8:47 pm, I’m on a mall rooftop with a boy I like. It’s nearly dark outside, with just a hint of an orange glow in the clouds, and my picture turns out a little blurry when the boy leans in to kiss me. On October 31 at 5:30 pm, I’m walking through parking lot K with tears in my eyes. The sky is overcast with the sun held hostage by the clouds, and I feel the icy Autumn wind pierce straight through my jacket. It’s the day I find out that I’d lost a friend overnight. I carry these moments, these snapshots of my life with every sunset I run after. Each picture is a reminder that life is constantly moving, sometimes too fast and sometimes too slow. I might be in a different place and time, or in a different season, mixed emotions and experiences swirling past me as a I go about each day, the sun changing and shifting its place with me. But at the end of the day, even on cloudy evenings after a terrible storm, the sun will always set and come home. | Lara Mercado

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I’ve Been Feelin’ a lil’ Blue | Briana Walton | Photography 13 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 13

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Self Healing | Kristin Zhai | Art 14 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 14

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In Memory, a Castaway & in this endless ocean where the scattered bits and pieces of myself that fell apart, come back together, on each crash and fall of tide adrift & I ride back along the rolling current to the whitest break of foam & wash up on a shore unknown— or half-remembered: empty beaches, clean white sand

& you will find me at the foaming mouths of rivers where the sea began & ask me where began the sea or else the cycle & it starts with me, again. A dead man’s float in primordial waters. I myself, the endless drifter.

& I (re)form myself anew, again, adrift

| Carolyn Klein

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Heather, Lily, Season First day, new school: the glint of her braces, those twin bands. Fingertips grazing each boy’s desk like an insect skimming water. During gym she confides in me; I hope someone might mistake us for friends, cross-legged in the field. She’s started smoking to stay thin, plans to wax the sunlit fuzz. Drawls into her compact mirror, defines equestrian. She’s adopted and I worry for her birth parents, the gravity of their error. Study how to arch my back, smile naturally. She would have a few names over the years: Heather, Lily, Season. It’s easy to spot her winking off water, the room’s tawny orchid, the many eyes that harvest auburn hair. Her twelve-year-old self told me she paints horses, and she said that no one cares.

| Ana Pugatch

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Watch Me | Abigail Cairns | Art 17 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 17

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The Women’s Journal | Sharmin Hossain | Art 18 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 18

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The Girl in the Mirror The second floor of my house has five mirrors. Two of them are in the bathrooms. One is part of a big, wooden dresser in the master bedroom. The other is hastily screwed onto a wall in my sister’s room. The last one sits just outside of the hallway by the stairs. It looms quietly in the corner, attracting me with a magnetism so strong I can’t help but look at my reflection every time I walk past. Tonight, I stare at it with scrutinizing eyes. I’d just finished a tough workout routine, my cheeks flushed red and forehead covered in sweat. I’m barely dressed in my sports bra and running shorts. I feel as exposed as being naked in public even though I’m alone in my own home. My fingers trail over my body to mark every flaw I see. They brush over the fat on my cheeks, the squishy skin under my arms, the bulge of my stomach, and the lack of space between my thighs. They prod and pinch at the skin there, squeezing until they leave a mark, and my stomach goes queasy at the thought of stepping on to a scale. I don’t do this. I promised myself long ago that I would stop the daily weigh ins. Instead, I continue to look into the mirror, haunted by the image of my body in the past—a chubbier version of the figure I’m staring at now. The mirror tells me it’s not enough. The mirror reprimands me for letting myself go. You’ve had more than a cup of rice today. That cheesecake is really showing on your thighs. You’re out of breath after three reps of bicycle crunches? Figures. Yet you wonder why you’ve been struggling to button your jeans. I tell myself it’s the mirror who’s doing the talking. It’s the mirror, and not my own mind that’s poisoning what I see in my reflection. Sometimes, the mirror speaks to me even when I’m far away from home. It tells me to hide in an oversized t-shirt during a coffee run. To avoid snapping that unflattering selfie of my side profile. To recoil when a boy runs his hands over my love handles. Like a soldier in a trance, I obey the mirror’s every command. It controls me with the deftness of a puppet master, twisting and tying the strings to make me dance. One day, I want to muster up the courage to cut the strings. I often wonder how it feels to be free from the mirror’s incessant nagging. On some nights, if I squint hard enough, I can almost see past the chunkiness of my body. And if I close my eyes, I can even shut out the devilish voice in my head. Tonight, the mirror releases me from its hold after I slip on a t-shirt and some sweatpants. It takes a great amount of effort to rip my gaze away from the glass. I turn in for the night with an unsettled feeling in my chest. Although the mirror’s voice is gone, I can’t get the image of my body out of my head. Even in my dreams, a girl in the mirror stares back at me with burning eyes. She stands tall despite being naked and exposed. She doesn’t speak, but I hear her voice echoing loud and clear. This is what you could be. Then, her reflection disappears, and the glass in front of me shatters into pieces.

| Lara Mercado

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Energy | Sharmin Hossain | Art 20 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 20

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Culture | Sharmin Hossain | Art 21 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 21

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Patchwork Doll I am a patchwork doll stitched together with cross country road trips and the stories of my ancestors gatherings around the fire and a church full of incense I am made from my grandparent’s sacrifice and my mother’s perseverance from tradition and fresh starts from immigration and colonization I am both yet neither together but separate passing but not I am the other the two races or more the never included on the form I am never enough for either cultures too much or too little I am miscellaneous a patchwork an all but neither yet happily me

| Sarah Lucine 22 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 22

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Human Complexity | Rebecca Jackson | Art 23 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 23

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I, Miss Polaris Stars above, oh once upon a time I could have played connect-the-dots on evening’s skin. I could have known Orion’s face, played Lyra’s heartstrings, majored Ursa, minored Canis. Oh, Polaris. Midnight’s canvas these days is a dusty gray, all smog no shine, no good for painting stars across. Once I could count upon your company above dark sidewalks. I could have known your glow as guiding light to lead me home (if I ever walked home at night). I could have seen you, gleaned your foresight. Now’s just streetlights. These days I look up, evening’s skin scant showing the few brightest moles. Polaris, are you one of those? I wouldn’t know your face from any planet’s, what with me standing here below on earth.

| Carolyn Klein 24 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 24

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Closed | Zainab Samsudeen | Art 25 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 25

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The Clearing Cloud cover converges over a clearing. Snow falls.

the bones of winter trees? Their branches

I scattered someone’s ashes here in a time

shift, still thick in their ivy sleep. His eyes

before. A crow as still as taxidermy watches my

are slits, his fists curled leaves, hair black

every move with its bead of an eye, then flies off.

like the ruffled down of night. But I cannot

In the field’s center, a car seat faces a single

pick him up just yet. He sleeps, he sleeps

dogwood, baby bundled, asleep. The petaled

on the wind and I remember now—

apparition keeps blooming in the snow.

the ashes scattered here were mine.

Why did I leave him here, a moon beneath

| Ana Pugatch 26 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 26

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The Final Hour | Andrew Savino | Art 27 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 27

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Hickory INT. DRESSING ROOM, LOS ANGELES AUDITORIUM- DAY MICHAEL, a dark skin black man, and EBONY, a brown skinned black woman, are getting ready for a presentation. Michael is arguing about the importance of what color pants he wears as he gets dressed. MICHAEL: I didn’t want the hickory pants, I wanted the beige pants. If I wanted the hickory pants I would’ve asked for the hickory pants. But since I didn’t ask for the hickory pants then that must mean.... EBONY: You didn’t want (the hickory pants.) MICHAEL: (over) I didn’t want the hickory pants. See wasn’t that easy? Now do you know why I didn’t want the hickory pants? EBONY: Because you have a religious opposition to wearing any color darker than the (Sephora makeup collection?) MICHAEL: (over) I’m dark chocolate, my turtleneck is ginger, the audience members will be between 30 and 300 feet away from me. If I wear hickory pants it will look like I’m just wearing a ginger turtleneck with no pants and people will be wondering what I look like when I don’t have pants on instead of listening to the words I’m saying. EBONY: To be fair they’ll probably be thinking about the words you’re saying when you don’t have pants on. I’ve never taken you for much of a dirty talker, are you? MICHAEL: The beige pants were supposed to nicely contrast the ginger and the dark chocolate and make them pop. Like the cover of an October GQ magazine. And if I’m busy using my mouth to talk I can’t use it for more important things. EBONY: What’s more important than talking during a presentation?

| Taj Kokayi 28 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 28

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MICHAEL: Not during the presentation, during sex. You’re telling me there were no beige pants anywhere? EBONY: I don’t think the women you sleep with would be ungrateful if you opened your mouth once in a while. If there were beige pants you’d have them and we wouldn’t be talking about (Men’s Health magazine.) MICHAEL: (over) Trust me, the women I sleep with are very grateful for what I do with my mouth. There are 250 clothes stores between here and Palo Alto. You’re telling me there were no beige pants between here and Palo Alto? EBONY: I’m telling you there were no beige pants between here and Washington State. Do you honestly think there’s a conspiracy out to prevent you from wearing (beige pants?) MICHAEL: (over) It was GQ. EBONY: What? MICHAEL: The magazine was GQ. Not Men’s Health. Men’s Health is focused on fitness and for the Chris’es and Hemsworth’s. GQ is for world changers. EBONY: I don’t think it’s fair to say that you can’t be a world changer and look like a Hemsworth. MICHAEL: Still. GQ has a much larger audience and is more on brand. Nobody buying Men’s Health magazine cares about color coordination. EBONY: Probably for the best. Men’s Health isn’t really your target demographic. MICHAEL: You don’t think I could be on the cover of Men’s Health? EBONY: I’m not having this conversation with you right now. Have you made a decision?

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MICHAEL: I’m still going back and forth between “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do” and “You should take the approach that you’re wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.” EBONY: I kinda like the first one. MICHAEL: Really? I can’t decide is calling the audience “crazy” is too condescending. EBONY: I don’t think it’s “crazy” as in unstable, I think it’s “crazy” as in innovative. Beside Elon Musk is too controversial to quote right now. MICHAEL: I know it’s “crazy” as in innovative, Steve Jobs wouldn’t have said it if it meant unstable. But still, I don’t know if it segues well enough into my next point. And he’s only controversial because he’s changing the world at a faster rate than people are willing to accept. Now there’s someone I’d like to see on a GQ cover. EBONY: Well if you can’t decide let’s flip a coin. MICHAEL: I don’t think I have (my wallet-) EBONY: (over) Heads or tails? MICHAEL: What? EBONY: Do I really need to repeat that question? MICHAEL: No I just meant that I didn’t have a- Heads. EBONY: Go with the Steve Jobs quote. MICHAEL: We didn’t have a (coin). EBONY: (over) I flipped in my head.

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MICHAEL: You flipped for who would choose the quote or which quote we would choose? EBONY: I flipped because you have 60 seconds until you go on stage and I just spent 12 of them talking to you about coins. MICHAEL Fine I’ll go with Steve Jobs. If people tweet about me calling the audience crazy you and I are going to have a serious discussion. EBONY: It’ll be better than them tweeting about you not wearing pants. MICHAEL: Do you just keep a list of witty comebacks in your pocket? EBONY: If I did I’d be going on stage instead of you and if I had pockets I wouldn’t have had to flip a coin in my head. Ebony opens the door so the two can exit. MICHAEL: Ebony. EBONY: Yes? MICHAEL: (points to his pants) I think these are more of a walnut. The door closes. END SCENE

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Oddity | Rachel Weier | Photography 32 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 32

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The Rain The rain used to mean something, It was a sign from something bigger than us that The madness was over. Whether it was the end to a drought, Or promise against famine, The rain used to mean something. When I was a little kid I would sit at my window, I’d watch the thunderstorms until The madness was over. I had too many anxieties back then, I was bullied and hated and confused and scared and The rain used to mean something. It took a few years, And many, many therapists and changes Before that madness was over. Now I watch the rain from the window, While everyone is locked away for months. The rain used to mean something, But the madness isn’t over.

| Michael Malatesta 33 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 33

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In Nature Grand In winter harsh and winter dark Comes golden light on golden bark— A silent, subtle symphony Of color in ecstasy. In spring renewed and spring refreshed Fall small petals on a small nest— A wilted, withered agony From feathers to destiny. In summer heat and summer light Rain waters swift as waters’ flight— A bursting, blasting great geyser Of power, like an amber fire. In autumn cool and autumn brisk Sprout flowers’ joy from flowers’ frisk— A swaying, twirling ballroom dance On winds’ gentle, tender expanse. In nature full and nature grand Grow trees and plants across the land, With light and water on the ground, As the four seasons abound.

| Eugene Pierson 34 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 34

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Joy (χαρά) | Miranda Sandoval | Photography 35 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 35

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African Ammunition As I reflect on the history of our abolition I ponder the racial juxtaposition Of you thinking my Blackness is a weapon and me seeing it as ammunition Not to say it’s dangerous or I’m violent, don’t believe those superstitions I’m just saying it fuels me and it serves as my ignition We’ve come too far to be ashamed of our blackness after all your opposition See I’ve grown up in a world that only loves chocolate when it’s coming in a wrapper or they come and see a rapper But when you see our ebony skin in the street you always think that we a strapper Best believe I see when you pull ya purse close and strap her It’s clear there’s been a miseducation on this COVID situation This might be the first time you’ve experienced a mass isolation But my African brothers and sisters have been social distancing for generations Or did you forget how segregation required the separation of blacks and whites where six feet apart was never a negotiation But a man was beat to death for such fraternization And you think listening to Tupac and seeing Get Out pays your reparations Somewhere along the line you convinced yourself we appreciate your culture appropriation That we can’t wait for the gentrification | Taj Kokayi 36 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 36

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That because we had one Black president it’s compensation for the foundation of a nation centered in the predation of our cocoa civilization Whose declaration supports the degradation and the exploitation of our association because of our mahogany saturation Trust me I did not forget how my people suffered for 400 years There’s no remorse fairy that can magically make it all disappear No amount of your history books can wipe away the tears You may think racism is dead, but I see your deepest fears I can read the thoughts between your ears You may say you love them but you’re afraid of your dark skin peers Somehow you think racism is behind us but I’m here to tell you it’s still in its fruition In case you missed it earlier, there’s a racial juxtaposition You see us as the gun, our blackness is a weapon At the same time, we’re the target and we have bullseye colored skin If you’re worried about traveling overseas let me remind you how the Middle Passage forced our ancestors to set on waters uncharted The passengers in those ships had as much say as the groceries in a shopping cart did Seen as nothing more than items to be used till worn out and then discarded Black people have been forced to wear masks from the start Covering up our true selves with your Caucasian paintbrushes like we’re some gentrified art Jim Crowe wasn’t a quarantine, but it had us worlds apart Corona may poison the air, but racism poisons the heart

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Growing, Healing, and the Hope for Brighter Days | Brianna Camp | Art 38 Magazine Spring 2021 FINAL.indd 38

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In Association with the Office of Student Media

Executive Editor Sally Deen

Prose and Poetry Editor

Sarah Sylvan

Art and Photography Editor Macayla Smith

Graphic Design Director Gina Pham

Social Media Manager Valerie Larrieu

Staff Randi Roy McKenna Martin Malek Salhab Catherine Middleton Hannah Brennan Gillian Clark Emma Evans Joseph Massa Fatina Al-Qutob Casey Wright Mariam Qureshi Aliah M. Showkatian Sydney Barlow Sydnee Jiggetts Jay Sapinski Katherine Harnisch Luke Harris

Faculty Advisor Jason Hartsel

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Get published! Submit prose, poetry, art, photography, and short screenplays by visiting: volition.gmu.edu

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