Open mic poetry and performance series on campus welcomes all

Feb 07, 2019
Open mic poetry events welcome for all.

Roses are red, violets are blue. An open mic poetry event may be just for you.

All students, faculty, staff and alumni are invited to the first open mic poetry and performance event of the semester. Attendees are welcome to present, perform or simply listen as people take on the open microphone Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the Newman Grind.

While a Valentine’s theme is encouraged, any topics are welcome. Gift card prizes will be awarded for the best reading or performance in each of the three categories: poetry, song/instrumental and prose/other.

“For several years, a few students each semester have informally asked me about poetry readings,” Associate Professor of English Susan Crane-Laracuente said. “Finally, inspired by a student, I thought we could work together to test out a small series last semester.”

One of the thoughts behind an open mic poetry and performance series was that it would create a new outlet on campus to further people on campus with art in various forms.

Newman student Matthew Clark plays a piece on his saxophone. Meanwhile, judges Steve Hamersky and Jeanette Parker listen in costume —
Hamersky as Simon Cowell and Parker as Wonder (Woman) Librarian.

A diverse demographic of students — in ages and majors — attended the first events — some reading works from their favorite poets, others presenting original pieces and still others performing covers of songs on an instrument of choice.

After the successful trial run event last May, Crane-Laracuente and her team of volunteer faculty, staff and students had a Tuesday lunchtime series on their hands.

“This event not only gives students a platform to express themselves in a variety of ways, but it brings people together in a way that only literature can,” freshman Matthew Clark said. “Everyone is so supportive of each other, and it is an environment that encourages upcoming and seasoned writers — or musicians or other artists — alike.”

Alumna Makaylah Perkins also heard about the events last semester and decided to attend.

Junior Elizabeth Urban goes all out for the Halloween costume-encouraged open mic event.

“The space that the open mics are held is the perfect size for enough people, but not so many that it is overwhelming,” Perkins said. “I think events like this are important because they allow students to share their art in a safe space with other people that also enjoy the same things. It also allows for people to come and just listen, and maybe gain the confidence to share the next time around, because everyone is very accepting.”

Performers are not limited in what they choose to present, either — participants have performed original poems, songs, short scenes from a script, improv-poetry and instruments from acoustic guitars to saxophones.

The events are very much a group effort, Crane-Laracuente said.

Director of Theater Mark Mannette, Librarians Jeannette Parker and Steve Hamersky, Events Coordinator Laura Hartley and Administrative Assistant Denise Cooley (along with her student workers, Bri Southworth and Saška Timarac, who copy and distribute posters around campus) have all teamed up to make these events possible.

“A special shout out goes to Student Life and the Vantage student newspaper for additional advertising, too,” Crane-Laracuente said.

To make matters extra festive, each open mic poetry and performance event has a creative theme.

Last semester, the October event encouraged attendees to sport their favorite Halloween costumes. Some students even read and sang as their favorite characters, Crane-Laracuente said. November had a “Glowvember” theme, which featured small glow-in-the-dark favors for all those who attended.

“The audience and participants has grown steadily, which I think reflects our purpose to offer an event that anyone would feel welcome at,” Crane-Laracuente added. “We continue to work on smooth communication and getting the word out to more people and groups each semester.”

Clark added, “If you are reading this, I hope you will consider coming out to the next event, to share or simply to support others and enjoy a delightful display of literary talent.”