By Tiffany Rutkowski
INK, the College’s student-run creative writing club, hosted Slam Down The Walls, a biannual slam poetry competition, for student-artists to debut 10 minutes of their best spoken-word poetry in the Bliss Hall Lounge on Thursday, March 2.
The competition began with a random selection of three students from the audience who volunteered to be potential judges. They were quickly briefed on how to judge the performances.
All performers were given a ranking on a scale of one to five, based on any criteria chosen individually by the judges. The scores were averaged and compared at the end of the event to determine the winner and runner-up.
“You don’t get a lot of opportunities like this on campus,” said Emily Miller, a junior English major and co-president of INK. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Kevyn Teape, a junior marketing major, stood up in excitement to kick off the competition as the opening performer. He revealed the topic of his first poem, family, as he performed “Generational Curses” to set the tone for an emotional three-piece performance.
“I just can’t write about anything beautiful,” Teape said in his second poem, “What I Wrote About the Flowers.” “Because I am not beautiful.”
The audience listened, engrossed by his raw performance. Teape took second place in the competition, only narrowly losing to the first-place winner.
Madeline Febinger, a sophomore computer science major and audience member, enjoyed having the chance to experience such passionate performances of poems.
“I just enjoy listening to poetry, and I’m here to support my friend who is performing,” Febinger said.
Lauren Guest, a freshman deaf education major, was the second to perform. Guest also expressed gratitude for a friend in the audience who drove an hour and a half to the College to see her performance.
The next poet was Brian Peng, a sophomore English and secondary education dual major and the treasurer of INK. Peng uses spoken-word poetry to help shed light on his struggle with mental illness.
“My poems are about my experiences with mental illness,” Peng said. “But I try to make it funny.”
Peng’s pieces articulated some of the feelings and thoughts that can occupy the mind.
“The things I cannot control — control me,” Peng said in one of his pieces.
Peng has been writing poetry since he was in high school and has been a member of INK since his freshman year at the College. He finds INK to be an ideal medium for people to creatively express themselves through writing.
“I just really love this club,” Peng said.
Amanda Riccitelli, a freshman chemistry major, performed third and stood out with one of her pieces called “A Gringo’s Lament,” a bold poem that included a mixture of Spanish and English.
“I’m in love with a language that’s not mine to claim,” Riccitelli said.
Jessica Shek, a freshman English major, followed up Riccitelli with an animated performance that elicited some laughs from the audience. Shek spoke confidently as she recited her poems, “To That Guy From That Thing,” “Wingding Intercoms,” “Radioactive People,” “I Love You” and “The Moon Needs Some Accutane.”
Guest closed the competition with an extra poem she had been working on in addition to her 10-minute performance.
In the end, Shek wowed the judges with her variety of pieces and won the competition, earning herself an INK button.
Miller and Kelly Noll, co-president of INK and a senior English major, were pleased with how the event turned out.
“It’s such a niche art form, and everyone is very supportive and people always bring their friends,” Miller said.