By Kelly Vena
The Bliss Hall Lounge was overflowing with excitement and an array of students on Friday, April 1, for INK’s biannual Slam Down the Walls poetry reading competition. Four writers braved the stage and recited three original poems apiece for the audience, as well as for randomly selected judges, who scored each poem. Senior English major Zachary Fuentes was chosen as the winner for his assortment of work.
One of his competitors, freshman journalism major Olivia Dauber, was the first performer of the night. She chose to read three personal poems. “Do Not Fall in Love with Me” depicts Dauber as a dedicated girlfriend. In “I Found an Old Diary,” she challenges negative stereotypes surrounding feminism and embraces her own feminism, while “If I Don’t Do This, Someone I Love Will Die” empowers readers to believe in their own identity and personal strength.
“I write about what I feel,” Dauber said of her poems. “I write about what I’m going through, what I’ve been through… my thoughts.”
Fuentes took the stage next with poems entitled “To Our Future President,” “Standing in Line” and “Thoughts on Fools.” The third poem was written specifically for the slam since it happened to fall on April Fools’ Day, Fuentes told the audience before he read it aloud.
Up next was junior interactive multimedia major Ravin Mehta. His poems, “No Bars on Me,” “Hit Me in the Feels” and “Paint Thin Trees” discussed the topics of unrequited love, helping depressed individuals and appreciating nature. Such weighty topics entranced the audience members, who silently listened to Mehta speak with rapt attention.
“There were definitely some poignant, vital works recited at the slam,” INK’s treasurer and junior biology major Kyle Siegel said. “The audience took pretty well to the poems and seemed to understand the emotions and legitimacy of each.”
The final competitor of the night, freshman English and secondary education dual major Catherine MacQueen, wrapped up the slam competition nicely with her powerful pieces.
“They Say” discussed the irony of cliché advice. “Moment” centered around suffering from and fighting inner demons. “Within,” her final poem, focused on her need to end a relationship, despite the physical temptation.
MacQueen, as well as Dauber and Meadow, were first-time competitors in the Slam Down the Walls competition.
“I’ve actually done stuff like this before,” Dauber said. “I was a debate kid in high school. We weren’t allowed to recite original work in debate spoken words, so this was the first time I’ve ever read personal pieces. It was scary but exciting.”
Siegel could not agree more with Dauber.
“It’s good to break out of your comfort zone,” he said. “In a low-stress, high-gain atmosphere like this, you can really practice your public speaking.”
After all was said and done, the audience and competitors alike waited eagerly for the judges to crown a winner. At long last, it was revealed by Siegel, the emcee of the night, that Fuentes was determined the winner of this semester’s slam. Fuentes received a certificate, as well as the opportunity to record his highest-scoring poem and turn it into a spoken word piece.
As for attendance, the INK executive board could not have been more pleased with the turnout of this semester’s slam.
“The slam is always well-attended,” Siegel said. “We are very thankful and happy to support fellow readers performing literary arts.”