Bobby Pierce

Sophomore Robert Tolley reads his poetry at the second Poetry Slam of the year, sponsored by the undergraduate literary magazine Inklings.

Bringing the likes of Walt Whitman and Alfred Lord Tennyson to Oxford, Inklings, the Miami University undergraduate literary publication, hosted its second Poetry Slam of the year Thursday night.

Four readers competed over three rounds, reading up to three poems apiece. Sophomore Robert Tolley, senior Tyler Howard Rand, first-year Laura Heins and senior Shawn Burton read poems, of which were written in noticeably different styles, for just over an hour before a brief intermission and deliberation of the judges.

In the end, the grand prize went to senior Shawn Burton, a creative writing major.

Burton explained that his style is based in vividness.

“I think of my poetry as writing in brushstrokes,” Burton said.

Burton’s work seemed to be the darkest of all four poets, with subjects such as terrorism, suicide and child-sized gas masks, all of which was presented in a unique manner. Keeping his tone steady, and rarely making eye contact with the audience while reading, Burton’s presentation was believed to be the best of the night by the judges.

Burton commented on the recent events at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He said that after a backlash against violent music, movies and video games, he fears that violent writing may be next in the spotlight.

“I am afraid of (a backlash),” Burton said. “People who can kill like that have a disconnect. It doesn’t come from writing violently.”

However, some of night was spent on the topics of love, farts, soapsuds and society, with animated performances by the poets. Heins even sang two of her works.

However, the applause at the end was significantly softer than it was during the readings themselves, as crowd size diminished throughout the performance.

While 002 Upham was filled to capacity at the beginning of the night – with more than 50 students crammed into the classroom – approximately 20 remained after the readings were over.

Many of the people who left said that they were required to attend the event for their creative writing classes, and once they got the notes they needed about the poetry itself, they were free to go.

Christine Zaino, editor of Inklings, commented on the exodus of attendees.

“It is great to have people come to our events,” Zaino said. “I am glad when teachers require their students to attend. Even for one student to come and stay, (it) may inspire them to submit (a piece to Inklings) or to come to our future event.”

With regards to the publication that Inklings prints seasonally, Zaino said that the Inklings issue for fall 2006 was smaller than previous issue. According to Zaino, the publication’s size is based on the amount of prose, poetry and art submitted over the semester.

Events such as the Poetry Slam are intended to attract potential writers, Zaino said. Without the writers, she said, there would be no magazines.

According to Zaino, the newest issue has been sent to print, yet she is not sure if it will be released before the end of the school year.

Zaino said the Poetry Slam lived up to the hopes of those involved and she hopes that the organization’s publication can be of service to the entire student body.

“I hope Inklings can be a magazine and organization for the whole student body,” Zaino said.