By Jennifer Goetz
Usually a spot to study in-between classes, the Bliss Hall Lounge transformed into an intimate space for writers, readers and performers on Friday, Feb. 10, for INK’s annual open mic Valentine’s Day Coffeehouse.
In addition to coffee and donuts, the College’s creative writing club treated the audience to literary performances focusing on love, heartbreak and more.
From 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., speakers could take the floor and read — or sing — any work they chose, whether it be a poem written that day, an original song or even an interesting Reddit feed.
Alena Woods, co-president of INK and a senior English major, encouraged everyone to speak up and read. She read several interesting written works and shared some of her own poetry.
“We always hold a coffeehouse right before Valentine’s Day,” Woods said. “This is one of our more popular reading events, along with slam poetry event.”
INK is responsible for hosting and organizing several events throughout the year for individuals to express themselves through written work. Two of its most popular coffeehouse events are centered around holidays: Valentine’s Day and Halloween, according to Woods.
Other on-campus reading events include the Student Reading Series in April, the Visiting Writers Series and the Goods.
“Our primary goal is to provide a creative outlet for student writers and readers of prose and poetry,” according to INK’s tumblr, and that goal was achieved at the Valentine’s Day Coffeehouse.
The audience felt welcomed to share their poems, songs, lists, stories and more.
For many participants, this was their first time sharing their work or volunteering to read in front of an audience.
“I’ve never really read (my own work) before today,” said Ian Gray, a freshman English and special education double major. “I pretty much only write, and then I put it on a blog sometimes, (but) today was really fun.”
In addition to reading his own poetry, Gray displayed his musical talent by singing Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.”
Kendel Stiles, a sophomore political science major, first encountered slam poetry during high school.
“I got so into it,” Stiles said about seeing another student practicing “awesome” slam poetry at a club meeting during high school.
“The next day I looked up all the slam poems online, and I started practicing other people’s works. And I started writing poems for just the purpose of doing slam poetry,” she said.
Stiles read several times at the coffeehouse, and her experience with slam poetry was evident.
While the audience members were encouraged to share written works, original or not, the relaxed setting allowed audience members to avoid participating and, instead, enjoy listening to others read.
“We had an amazing turnout,” Woods said, “It was a great time.”
“(Tonight) was awesome,” Stiles said. “There were so many good vibes (that) came from people just singing to talking about heartbreak and love and everything else.”
The Valentine’s Day Coffeehouse was an opportunity for students to meet and learn about each other.
“Poetry has a way of connecting everyone,” Stiles said.