By Katie O’Dell
Freshman Gabriella Bottoni could have been describing the atmosphere at ink’s annual Halloween Coffeehouse when she read, “The skies, they were ashen and sober/ The leaves, they were crisped and sere … It was a night in the lonesome October.” The open options arts and communications major read from Edgar Allan Poe’s “Ulalume” at the coffeehouse, which took place at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28. in the Travers/Wolfe Main Lounge.
The event offered an opportunity for students to read original and published pieces in a relaxed, if seasonably spooky, setting.
Costumed literary enthusiasts sat in a semicircle as volunteers stood up to read. Freshman open options major Carly DaSilva was the first performer.
“I’m not going to do Snape’s voice,” she quipped, alluding to the infamous Harry Potter character who was the inspiration for her Halloween costume. Instead, her voice was edged with drama as she read an original untitled tale of murder and starvation.
“They’ve made you a monster,” one of her characters told her husband, “and I’ll be one, too.”
DaSilva was one of just two students to read original work. The other was senior sociology and statistics double major Lou Klein, whose postmodern poem was filled with unusual combinations of imagery and language.
“Keen eyes never notice the spongy asphalt,” he read. “I would sign to you/ I will speak in scales.”
Other participants turned to published writers for material. Senior English major Corey Drake’s eerie rendition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Raven” was followed by a response reading from junior English and biology double major Ashley Vogt. “So, um … the real ‘Raven’ now,” she said teasingly before reading the Edgar Allan Poe poem of the same name.
Poe’s famously morbid writing proved to be a popular choice, as junior English major Matthew Brown then delivered a deep-throated reading of “The Tell-Tale Heart” accompanied by junior special education and English double major Alicia Cuomo on the bongo drums.
The selections shifted from spooky voices of the romantic age to characteristically bleak modernist poetry as junior English major and ink president Samantha Zimbler took to the microphone with Robert Frost’s “Ghost House” and T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.”
“I actually didn’t read the whole thing, but I’m hoping it’s really scary,” she said before beginning the latter piece. Eliot’s writing didn’t disappoint as Zimbler’s voice crested over its dark conclusion: “This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper.”
Senior English major Jeff Harrison received the loudest reaction of the evening as he excerpted the work of Marquis de Sade. “His name is where we get sadism from,” he explained with a laugh.
Undeterred by the audience’s cries of horror and disgust, a grinning Harrison read lines such as, “I am going to glide over your pretty little asshole with my tongue,” and “She’ll swallow, oh, I promise you, she’ll swallow it down” before nauseated audience members begged him to retake his seat. Harrison did so amicably, but his good-natured threat to resume reading kept volunteers coming up to the microphone for the remainder of the evening.
“We’re really excited that people came out and that they dressed up and were into it,” Zimbler enthused in a post-event interview. Interested students are encouraged to attend ink meetings at 2 p.m. every Wednesday in the Bliss Hall Lounge.