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Mary M. Jirmanus '05

By Emily S. High, Crimson Staff Writer

Jirmanus has translated her own brand of social activism into an artistic outlet with her new magazine—Present! After being a part of WorldTeach Costa Rica and Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice, she won an Office for the Arts grant this fall for the production of the premiere issue of Present!, which plans to frame interesting questions about spaces, what they mean, and all the stories and art which revolve around them.

What’s your magazine all about?

Present! zine is about everyone and anyone sharing, exploring and celebrating things that we love, in every way imaginable—drawing, comics, manifestos, poems, hopefully in printed form. Present! is about bringing people together to make something new, and taking time to look at the world around us before talking back. But it’s also an acapella group.

How is Harvard as a community for artists and writers?

The artist community that exists at harvard is pretty exclusive and intimidating, maybe because the opportunities for expression are almost exclusively institutionalized. It seems as though there is a very specific definition of what art is and where it can be made, and thus its not particularly welcoming or inspiring to people on the outside. Artistic expression should be accessible to everyone and not be defined by one group, but there is so little room for that here.

If you weren’t at Harvard, where would you be?

Berlin, the city of the future.

What’s your greatest accomplishment?

Thank god I was never a very good speller. Losing the fifth grade spelling bee.

What’s your favorite place to be in the Square?

Noir, in the Charles hotel.

Where do you imagine yourself in ten years?

In the present?

What moment would you like to relive from the past year?

Today’s waste audit, and watching (vicariously) a VHS tape found in the trash, labeled “Gig-1,” in the Cabot library (see Wednesday’s Crimson for explanation).

What has been your most fulfilling class or experience at Harvard?

October 25, 2003. Quincy Grill.

What would you consider to be your biggest quirk?

To quote the futurists’ Manifesto point #9, “We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.”

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