Pursuing a life of artistic creation is a difficult road. A future plan that includes the word “author” or “poet” is often seen as childish ambition, on the level of planning to pitch for the Yankees.
Despite the discouragement, many students at the College are choosing to buck tradition and follow their artistic ambitions. These students had the opportunity to show off their talents in Saturday’s eight-hour arts extravaganza “the goods.”
Sponsored by ‘ink’, the College’s creative writing club, “the goods” is a bi-annual arts festival featuring student performances of fiction, music and poetry. This year’s event featured 19 scheduled acts and an hour for open mic performances by audience members.
In order to be featured, students had to submit a writing sample or music clip with their application. The organizers, including co-coordinators Lisa Kozempel, junior English major, and Matt Fair, junior journalism major, then weeded through the applications and selected the best mix.
“Unfortunately, we did have to make cuts,” Kozempel said. “But we’re hoping those people will apply again next semester and we can fit them in.”
This Saturday marked only the second year of the event, but the concept seems to be quickly catching on.
“Although I didn’t run last semester’s ‘goods,’ I attended the whole thing and I can tell that there was definitely a much bigger turn-out and much more enthusiasm from people attending,” Kozempel said. “It seems like people are really starting to anticipate the event.”
The relatively small setting of the Rat gave the event a coffeehouse vibe. Instead of being grouped by genre, the poetry, prose and music acts were interspersed throughout the day. At the entrance, a visual art display, put together by junior art major Matt Erdely and senior art major Diane Koss, greeted attendees.
The day kicked off with a performance by Reverence, a band featuring junior biology and secondary education major J.T. Weime on drums.
“They really wanted to have a lot of energy at the beginning of the show,” Weime said of his band’s opening slot.
Although the start time of 12:00 p.m. would connote sleep to most college students, a surprising number came out to support the openers.
“At first it seemed like it was all people I hang out with,” Weime said. “But by the second song more people were there. It was cool that people started to show up early.”
Kozempel noted that, unlike past “goods,” many of the students who stopped in this year ended up staying for more than one act. “Many people come to see a friend perform, but this year they were much more likely to stay for other performers,” she said. “The Rat was packed all day.”
Junior journalism major Katy Healey was one of those students. She found the format and content of the show refreshing. “At first I was kind of saddened by the lack of attendance,” she said, referring to “goods” of the past. “But the it has seemed to pick up.”
The event was created in Fall 2003 as a forum for the College’s aspiring artists, writers, poets and musicians to showcase their work. It was also intended as a networking event, allowing students with similar interests a chance to meet and foster their talents.
“It’s a way for artists, poets, writers and musicians on campus to meet one another and network with each other,” Kozempel said. “It’s a way to build community on campus.”
The acts expressed the wide range of artistic talents on campus. One early crowd favorite was Jilly Appleheimer’s story about lusting after Jesus during church. While some would find this implication offensive, Appleheimer’s earnest delivery elicited numerous laughs from the crowd.
The variety and quality of all the acts made it difficult for attendees to pick a favorite. “That’s like asking a proud parent who their favorite child is,” Kozempel said. “It’s difficult to pick a favorite because everybody did an excellent job. But of all the acts we chose I think I liked Thin Icy Oil Man (senior English major Anthony Milici) because he fused poetry with music and he was very mysterious.”
Most importantly, organizers hope that students use “the goods” as another opportunity to get involved in the College community. “It’s easy at TCNJ to just go to class and do your work without ever getting involved in anything,” Kozempel said. “The goods allows us to be college kids and get out to participate.”
For students who desire a life of music or writing, or those who are just interested in the work of their peers, “the goods” is a valuable tool to integrate art on campus. “Honestly, I think our campus is pretty void of interesting or artistic programs, so I commend “the goods” for even happening,” Healey said.