By Grace Gottschling
The walls of Bliss Hall’s lounge echoed with passionate performances and snapping applause as enthusiastic artists brought forward their poetry in an attempt to “Slam Down the Walls.”
INK, the student-run creative writing club, held its biannual event, Slam Down the Walls on Thursday, Sept. 21.
The Bliss Hall Lounge was packed as students from all years and majors piled in to watch five students complete their showcase of spoken word poetry. Each performer spoke for the allotted time of 10 minutes and the three judges — randomly selected from the audience at the beginning of the night — watched with rapt attention.
The performances varied from complex mixed dialogue, inner narratives, uplifting comedy and grieving tragedy. After taking a brief moment to deliberate, the judges announced the winner, Kristen Cefaloni, a sophomore mathematics and secondary education dual major and INK’s publicist.
“I first got into (poetry) when my seventh grade English teacher showed us spoken word and that was the first time hearing it. I’ve just fallen in love with it ever since,” said Cefaloni, who has also performed at last year’s Slam Down the Walls.
One of her most powerful pieces of the night, “Empty Parking Lots and Fingerprints,” describes a girl struggling with an assault in an empty parking lot and her subsequent navigation of the world around her. The piece, inspired by her own personal experiences and trauma, was very emotional to perform in such a public space.
“Sadness and negative emotions inspire me,” Cefaloni said.
Chelsea McQuillen, a senior English and secondary education dual major and one of the three selected judges, said that it, “felt strange to judge my peers because all of their work was wonderful in their own unique styles.”
McQuillen felt, Amanda Riccitelli, a freshman chemistry major and the night’s runner-up, was extremely talented.
“I loved the way she incorporated song as well as Spanish into her poems,” she said.
McQuillen also enjoyed the performance by Brian Peng, a sophomore English and secondary education dual major.
“Brian Peng’s poetry gave me chills and made me want to laugh and cry at times which is exactly what poetry is supposed to do — make you feel,” she said. “I was extremely impressed and in awe of those who performed”
Kelly Noll, a senior English major and the current president of INK, recommends that all interested students should consider applying to present their work at either of the upcoming INK events — the Halloween Coffee House in October and the Student Reading Series in November. Applications open two weeks prior to each event.