It All Starts With the I.N.K.

On Friday, November 3, comedic poetry duo I.N.K. kicked off Albion College’s Open Poetry Night with an introductory poem about their group and performance style.

“If you came here tonight to hear a modern-day dissection of Emily Dickinson, you came to the wrong place,” the pair stated.

Between the expert level beatboxing and occasional fart jokes, this much was obvious to anyone listening.

Comprised of Jonathan “Courageous” Clark and Lane Shuler, I.N.K. is an energetic force on stage. In 2011, I.N.K. made it to group finals of the National Poetry Slam and took 6th place in the nation.

Curious about what brought I.N.K. to Albion, I asked Karen Carroll, vice president of late night for Union Board, via email. She told me I.N.K was hired by the college after Union Board saw them at a conference for college activities.

They did a very good job of running [Open Poetry Night]. They were on time, interacted with the audience and were very engaging to watch,” said Carroll.

I.N.K. made sure the audience was responsive to student performances at Albion, too. When a student walked on stage, Jonathan and Lane shouted, applauded and raised their arms indicating the audience do the same. This encouragement was helpful for those reluctant to share their poems.

“For an event like this, it can be difficult to have very few students or an overwhelming amount of students present. This event had a very good amount of students that attended, and more students shared their poetry as opposed to last spring when only four students shared,” said Carroll.

A total of 10 students performed their own pieces in between I.N.K.’s recitations.

The students’ own pieces featured topics ranging from overcoming abuse to empathizing with one’s enemies. Natalya DiCiacca, a senior from Temperance, Michigan, was the first one to share her poetry.

“I went to a Christian camp over the summer for a month and we did like non-musical worship… Poetry was one of the things I pressed into, so I wrote a couple poems there,” she said.

Her poem, titled “Lost and Found,” was inspired by her faith. I asked if she was nervous to perform.

“I probably wouldn’t have [read my poetry] but mine was about God… So I felt like God was kind of calling me to perform it,” said DiCiacca.

I.N.K. spoke about God in their poetry as well. In a fast-paced opening piece, the pair gave a hint as to the origins of their name.

“In the beginning there was the logic and the logic was with God and the logic was God, which means God is in our brains cause logic is what you think, which means God is in our art and it all starts with the ink,” I.N.K. recited.

Although many of the poems included heavier themes, I.N.K. kept the energy fun and light with interactive activities like improv poetry. For this activity, the audience shouted out random words. A student then joined Clark in using those words to perform an unrehearsed poem. The result was something closer to improv comedy since the three chosen words were ketchup, dragon and sex.

If you’re an aspiring poetry writer or simply someone who wants to try something new, look forward Open Poetry Night happening again this time next year.

Photo courtesy of Dria Hill.

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