As students wandered into the Rathskeller (Rat) on the afternoon of Dec. 1, many were taken aback by the sights and sounds of students reading prose, poetry and performing music. The diverse mixture of talent drew a number of students, who came only for their customary Saturday lunch with friends, into staying and listening to The Goods.
The Goods, a talent showcase for student artists, writers and musicians, is hosted every semester by Ink, the College’s literature club. According to Lindsay Coleman, senior psychology major and Ink vice president, The Goods is intended to be “an afternoon arts festival” that primarily features student talent.
“The main focus is on the students and the creative ability at the College,” Coleman said. “A lot of times we’ll have outside talent or outside writers come,” she added, noting that this year’s performers were entirely from the campus community.
The Rat proved to be a fitting venue for The Goods. The casual atmosphere created a sense of comfort throughout the crowd, and as poems and short stories unfurled, onlookers could be seen gazing intently at the performers.
Joe Rooney, senior English major, read several poems and short stories that left the crowd still and silent. He carried the onlookers through both foreign countries and psychedelic, mushroom-induced trips. Rooney began by reading a story titled “Wrinkles,” which portrayed the isolation of an older woman, bent by time and loss, as he sipped dry martinis and smoked cigarettes in his posh apartment. This was followed by two other works, “Suburban Shadows” and “Catholic Grade School Love,” which addressed the themes of awkwardness and uncertainty in youth.
Rooney then proceeded to read “Tripping in Amsterdam,” the story of a soul-searching Australian’s quest to find God through mind-expanding drugs. The short story, interwoven with verses of poetry, featured a number of psychedelic characters, including a judgmental Barry Bonds, a leprechaun, dancing penguins and a rapping panda bear.
“Soul Quest,” a story based on an encounter Rooney had with a girl while backpacking in Switzerland, garnered much approval from the crowd. Rooney described how in conversation, he discovered that the girl’s boyfriend had committed suicide, and she confessed that she was also losing her will to live. The story loosely described how a conversation helped to change the girl’s mind.
“I think that’s an important lesson to learn,” Rooney said. “You can really change someone’s life.”
Nicole Gough, senior English/secondary education major, presented several introspective works. Gough first read an untitled poem which described drinking from brown paper bags in New York City’s Washington Square Park and walking countless blocks in high heels. The poem embraced both the magnitude and beauty of the city. This was followed by the confessional work, “A Fascist in New York City,” which described Gough’s anger with a 30-something’s T-shirt while sitting in a Guinness-only dive bar. Gough’s last poem was about a faux encounter with Sylvia Plath. In the poem, Plath mysteriously arrives on the narrator’s doorstep bearing a cake pan, bound obviously for the oven.
“I knew she wasn’t a Girl Scout, and it was silly to think she was,” Gough read.
Kat Alfonso, senior English/secondary education major, presented several energetic works. Alfonso first read a poem titled “Egg Shells,” which she said was about her sophomore year. The poem conveyed exuberant jubilance for a particularly poignant time in the poet’s life. Alfonso followed this with “Sally Jessy Raphael” and “Whales and Bad Dates,” two humorous poems about watching bad television after work and the doldrums of dating, respectively. “Whales are almost extinct and bad dates, well, they just keep on coming,” Alfonso read.
The afternoon also featured the rapid-fire guitar licks of Leo Mahaga, junior criminal justice major. Mahaga was accompanied by Shaun Quigley, sophomore communication studies major, on rhythym guitar and Brian Albert, freshman music education major, on drums. The recently-formed group performed a number of untitled, instrumental songs that touched on elements of punk, metal and jazz. At one point, Mahaga raised his guitar behind his head and continued an extended solo as Quigley and Albert maintained the parameters of the jam.
For fans of The Goods, Coleman said there is still a lot to look forward to from Ink.
“We have a lot more ideas for next semester,” she said.
Coleman said students can expect more opportunities for both performing and listening to literary and musical works in the new year.