Guerrilla shakes up Geneseo literary scene

You may have noticed some poetry hanging in the bathroom stall you used this morning or maybe in the library cubicle where you studied after class. This writing is irregular––and it’s everywhere. This effort to display unique poetry and other art is helmed by the newest addition to Geneseo’s literary scene: Guerrilla. Contributors to this up-and-coming organization are interested in a new kind of campus art, art that is published by the campus and on the campus—whether that’s on walls, floors, sidewalks or even in bathroom stalls.

According to sophomore Evan Goldstein—a spokesperson for the group—Guerrilla can serve as a useful platform for Geneseo artists. “People [could say], ‘I have a poem … or an essay to submit about what’s going on in Geneseo,’” he said. “Providing an outlet for that and [saying] ‘Yeah, we’ll definitely chalk that on the sidewalk outside of the [MacVittie College] Union for you’ is a valuable public service.”

Guerrilla began when a group of creative writing students had lunch with visiting poet Erika Meitner last semester, brainstorming ways that a new, different, more hands-on literary journal could benefit Geneseo. Although poetry was their starting point, it is far from the only type of art the members are interested in featuring. Guerilla is also looking to review short fiction and nonfiction as well as drawings, paintings and photography.

In general, Guerrilla is committed to anonymity. Being anonymous enables members to deemphasize personal recognition, focusing on forming a cohesive community. Participation in Guerrilla is about joining a group to create art for the campus and showing that the campus has a voice.

There is also a certain political connotation to Guerrilla—both with the group’s name and with its methods. Members have the chance to explore campus, community and political issues through art—though the group has no official political affiliation. “Either way, the art is going to be political,” Goldstein said. “If you’re putting a love poem up in a bathroom in Brodie [Hall], it’s going to have a little bit of an added meaning due to the context.”

As far as their internal politics go, the group hopes to institute a democratic voting process so that submitters can read and vote on what submissions they believe deserve to be published. They also plan for a collaborative workshop setting to give those who were not published an understanding of where they can improve, as well as offering help with revising their works.

Guerrilla contributors held an interest meeting earlier this semester. They plan to have more regular meetings in the future, but for now, the best way to get in touch with them or to submit a piece for consideration is by emailing GuerrillaGeneseo@gmail.com.

The group also had a presentation on display at Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement and Talent Day on Tuesday April 21, which included 16 poems hung up with nails and wire on each of the two walls of the Kinetic Gallery.

Guerrilla members have considered publishing a tangible journal or anthology at some point, but they are not bound to this idea. “Journals come out once a semester,” Goldstein said. “People get them if they’re interested and if they’re not, they don’t ever see them.”

This is part of the reason the organization was founded in the first place: To provide an alternate model for expression. The mission is to publish artistic submissions, and members have already begun accomplishing that.

Arguably, Guerrilla is already a journal after all—just not a conventional one. “We could say that [Guerrilla] is a journal because [it’s] taking submissions and publishing them—but not bound in the volume,” Goldstein said. “The journal is on campus.”