By Ane Rudorfer
Students looking for a place to share their poetry with fellow students and watch professional poets perform didn’t have to look any further than “The Goods,” held Saturday, Nov. 7, in the Library Auditorium. Hosted by Ink, the College’s creative writing organization, students performed a variety of pieces, including slam poetry and instrumental music during the all day art festival.
The day also included a performance by the Trentones, the College’s a cappella group and four open mic sessions. According to Kyle Siegel, a junior biology major and the treasurer of Ink, The Goods Festival can be characterized simply as a “broad and eclectic mix of art coming together.”
Senior psychology major Andrew Edelblum performed covers of popular songs including “Hotline Bling” by Drake and “Jerusalem” by American singer-songwriter Dan Bern. He also played original songs, one of which was inspired by a personal experience. He mentioned that it felt “weird to perform this live.” A few summers ago, Edelblum was working as a busboy at a restaurant. During one shift, he only received $21 in tips, which he thought was very little. Thus, he wrote a song about it entitled “$21.”
Senior English major and president of Ink Rachel Friedman also performed, sharing her poetry collection entitled, “Compact Heart.” Thematically, the collection is about Friedman’s crush on her former political science tutor. It describes how she processed her feelings during this time. Friedman explained “Compact Heart” as an exploration of “love and struggling to find it.”
The night’s marquee performer was the slam poet Rachel Kann. She has released three albums, “Word to the WHY?S,” “Ptolemaic Complex” and her most recent, “The Upward Spiral.” The latter is a spoken word album set to ambient electronic music. She has also written a book called “10 for Everything,” which includes poems and short stories. Kann has been featured on the National Public Radio program, “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” and her work has appeared in the journals “Eclipse” and “Coe Review,” among others. Kann has received the prestigious Rabbit Heart Poetry Award and has performed at TEDx University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She teaches creative writing classes at the UCLA extension.
Kann performed works from “The Upward Spiral” and “10 for Everything.” The first piece she performed was “Out.” In this poem Kann stated “Come out/ I know all too well what it’s like to be shunned/ to be shamed/ to be straight up endangered/ It sucks/ Come out anyway.”
Here, Kann exhorted her audience to express themselves and open up to love, while also sympathizing with their struggles. Another poem that Kann performed called “Prayer,” showed her hopes for the world.
In her poem “High,” Kann labeled herself a “hedonistic ascetic.” She described how throughout her life she would push herself to feel high. She explained she completed a water fast where she didn’t drink water for a certain number of days, yet she “lived to tell the tale.”
In the question and answer session following the performance, Kann talked about her career beginnings and writing process. Kann encouraged aspiring writers to set up deadlines for themselves, as it helps move the writing process. She also mentioned that revision is a key part of the process.
“I spend a lot of time writing and honing,” she said. In addition, Kann mentioned that research is also a key part of her writing process, especially when she writes about subjects she is not completely familiar with.
Kann did not initially set out to be a slam poet. At 21, Kann met her friend, the singer-songwriter Amy Steinberg. Steinberg encouraged Kann to write poetry. Kann soon realized that she had a knack for writing poetry because she was an avid reader.
“Reading helps you become a better writer,” Kann said. “It is one of those rare things you can learn from observation. You can’t learn how to surf by watching someone do it.”