New student group aims to represent black writers


Andrea Cannon

ink. poetry organization

By Assistant Campus Editor

Columbia’s newest student organization, ink., aims to serve as an outlet for black student poets, writers and performing artists to build their skills alongside one another.

Luther Hughes, president of ink. and a sophomore creative writing major, said he wants the organization to be an on-campus resource for black student artists of various styles to speak openly about their experiences. He said he is excited to contribute to the organization’s growth.

“I felt the writing groups on campus didn’t really cater to students of color,” Hughes said. “I felt like black poets needed a place where we could all come, sit and build a community for ourselves on campus.”

Hughes said he hopes ink. will give black writers a sense of belonging to something they can truly relate to as they hone their skills and learn how to present their work on a grander scale through workshop and performance opportunities.

“We’re hardcore writers,” Hughes said. “All we do is write. We love the skill of writing. We love words. We love language. That is one thing that we have [that separates us] from everyone else—that hardcore drive to present our work to the community.”

Mariah Ivey, vice president of ink. and a sophomore business & entrepreneurship major, said one of ink.’s goals is to create a collective voice for black poets throughout campus, something she said many participants said they wish was present everywhere.

“We have people who have transferred from different schools and have said they are happy that an organization like ink. exists on Columbia’s campus, and it makes them want to be a part of our weekly meetings,” Ivey said.

However, Ivey said ink. is not limited to a single style of writing or art. The executive board itself is composed of different types of writers and poets to help participants develop in whatever they excel in, which makes for a welcoming and educational environment, she said.

“Above all things, we’re creating a safe haven for everyone to build and network with each other,” Ivey said. “It’s a place for people to come, express themselves and learn about the foundations of poetry.”

Ivey said along with ink.’s weekly workshops, which are held every Friday from 3:30–5:30 p.m. in room 412 of the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building, ink. will host its first major showcase, “I AM” poetry, on Dec. 5. The showcase will require performing artists to present original works of any writing or performance style they choose.

Alexis Franklin, community service chair of ink. and a sophomore cultural studies major, said Hughes approached her about joining ink. when the organization was still in the developmental stages. She said he encouraged her to bring her voice to the organization to help enrich the group and establish its presence among black poets she was connected to.

Franklin said ink. is different from other poetry organizations she has been part of because it is geared toward minorities and their open expression but does not alienate other ethnic groups. 

“We make sure that we don’t dilute or minimize what we talk about within black culture,” Franklin said. “We’re making sure that the presence is known, not to disrespect [other races or ethnicities], but to make sure everybody knows what’s happening accordingly.”

Franklin said ink.’s presence on campus is pivotal to preserve the voice of black poets as well as to help document and project the experiences of black student poets and writers. Most organizations on campus tend to generalize student’s experiences, putting all students in one category, but ink. plans to do the opposite by allowing members to be and speak for themselves, she said.

“If the black poets didn’t write in ink., they would just be writing to themselves,” Franklin said. “Ink. creates a platform in which they can do whatever they want, however they want and not only have backup support but a platform to exercise that support.”