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Abuzz with creativity: Buzzsaw’s first-ever showcase

Tyler+Dale%2C+Prose+and+Cons+Editor+for+Buzzsaw+Magazine%2C+reads+from+a+section+of+the+magazine+during+the+Nov.+28+Buzzsaw+Showcase.+
Makai Yllanes/The Ithacan
Tyler Dale, Prose and Cons Editor for Buzzsaw Magazine, reads from a section of the magazine during the Nov. 28 Buzzsaw Showcase.

Writers, friends and classmates eagerly gathered at Williams Hall on Nov. 28 as Buzzsaw Magazine held their first ever Buzzsaw Showcase to celebrate the magazine’s creations throughout recent semesters. 

The Buzzsaw Showcase provided writers with the opportunity to read aloud any work they have done for the magazine, whether it be from any past issue or from this semester’s two issues —  “The Barbie Issue” and “The Artificial Intelligence Issue.” The showcase was open to the entire campus community to learn about the publication, meet the Executive board — or “Buzzstaff” — and hear from Buzzsaw’s own members as they presented their work to fellow students in a welcoming and respectful atmosphere. 

Senior writing major Mikayla Tolliver, the president of Buzzsaw, is responsible for organizing general body meetings, delegating to editors and the overall production of the magazine. Tolliver said she enjoys the contrast that Buzzsaw provides as a creative publication compared to an academic writing setting. 

“Buzzsaw is definitely more creative and flexible,” Tolliver said. “I feel like people are definitely willing to take more risks with Buzzsaw and write things that are more out there and kind of colorful and vibrant.” 

Buzzsaw is an independent literary publication written and published by Ithaca College students that operates under the writing styles of creative journalism, news, satire, poetry, personal essays, short stories, reviews and social commentary. The magazine — which adopted its name from the lyric, “When I was a little boy / With a buzzsaw haircut” from the Mojo Nixon song “Hamlet Chicken Plant Disaster — was created in 1999 by a group of students and friends who wanted to create a student-operated space for free expression of ideas and perspectives outside of perceived norms.

Tolliver, who planned and organized the Buzzsaw Showcase, was responsible for reserving the room, communicating with the e-board and general body and facilitating campus-wide advertising of the event with groups like the Department of Writing. Tolliver also collaborated with the magazine’s treasurer to provide attendees with free snacks and refreshments to enjoy while listening to the readings.

Tolliver said that the event had a great turnout, with around 40 people in attendance, and that the showcase was successful in its mission to provide an open and welcoming platform for writers to share their work. 

“It’s always different reading someone’s piece versus hearing the writer read that piece,” Tolliver said. “[Having the showcase] just felt right. … People seemed really excited about it and seemed to enjoy hearing the pieces read.” 

As each piece was read aloud, there was a wave of captivating silence within the audience. Each piece was drastically different in tone and content and showcased the depth and range that the writing at Buzzsaw has. 

Each issue follows a central theme aimed at dissecting attitudes and opinions about pop culture and society. All of Buzzsaw’s content is posted online alongside their printed issues. Occasionally, the magazine will feature additional content on their website if a writer has multiple pieces published within a section. 

In September, Buzzsaw released “The Barbie Issue,” which focused on the Warner Bros.’ recent blockbuster. The issue outlined reviews that the film garnered from critics, as well as the film’s social impact surrounding ideas of gender roles in the media, self esteem in young girls and existentialism. 

The magazine’s second issue of the semester, “The Artificial Intelligence Issue,” is a collection of pieces inspired by rising concerns and public opinions regarding the integrity of creative expression surrounding AI content creation platforms. Some pieces touch on human connection in the face of discussions of dehumanization of art. 

Each individual piece of an issue is filed under a certain section of the magazine, which is home to varying styles of writing. Readers can find opinionated news pieces in the “News and Views” section; “Upfront” is dedicated to opinionated pieces as well as news stories featuring interviews; “Sawdust” is the magazine’s satire section and “Ministry of Cool” presents reviews of current films, music and books. “Prose and Cons” is a long-form section, featuring short stories, poetry and personal essays. “Seesaw” is Buzzsaw’s photography and digital media section. The magazine also showcases digital and hand drawn art throughout their issues. 

Prose and Cons Co-Editor Sofia Nolfo, a senior Communications Management and Design major, has been working with Buzzsaw for two years and said the publication allows her to express herself in ways not always possible in other spaces.

“I really love Buzzsaw because it’s a great creative outlet,” Nolfo said. “I feel like you can take a lot of risks at Buzzsaw —  it’s a progressive magazine so you can really be as creative as you want.” 

Junior psychology major Allie Richter is the Upfront editor for Buzzsaw. Richter was one of many writers who shared their work on Tuesday night and described the experience as both nerve wracking and exciting. 

“This event was the first time I’ve ever really written a poem and shared it with people,” Richter said. “I really felt like it was such a great space because I feel that with Buzzsaw, we’ve always just had our two issues and never done anything outside of that, so it was really exciting to actually have an event.” 

This semester was Richter’s first as an editor. In past semesters, she wrote pieces for “Upfront,” “Sawdust” and submitted pieces for the creative writing section, “Prose and Cons.”  

Nolfo also had the chance to read her long-form piece, “An Ode to Gay Bars and Drag Nights,” from “The Artificial Intelligence Issue,” which depicts Nolfo’s experiences at queer nightclub spaces both in London during her time abroad as well as at venues in Ithaca. 

Nolfo said she enjoys having such a space like Buzzsaw to have the opportunity to write about queerness. 

“I appreciate that I feel safe enough and open enough to write about this in this magazine,” Nolfo said. 

Since next semester will be Nolfo’s last with the college and with Buzzsaw, she said she is looking forward to getting more work published and continuing to create a collaborative environment within the publication’s staff.

“I’m really excited that we’re starting to have some events and bring in the community because I feel like a good amount of people read Buzzsaw, but it’s nice to have an interactive element with everyone,” Nolfo said. 

Tolliver said the magazine has a large meeting at the start of each semester to organize and plan ahead for their next issues and is now exploring the possibility of more showcases and events moving forward.

Richter expressed interest in having events like the showcase in the future to continue providing a platform that lets writers promote their work with the campus community. 

“I’m excited to hopefully have something like this [next semester] to be able to give people more opportunities to share their work because I don’t feel like we have a lot of opportunities like that,” Richter said.

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