WKU English Department Holds First Open Mic Night of the Semester
- Abigail Raley
- Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020
On Open Mic night, the air is classified by the reverberating sound of vocal vibrations colliding into the thick heated scent of Cherry Hall. Students jot down notes on pads as they listen to their peers and faculty recite poems, nonfiction pieces, and fiction. The verbal performance of literature is alive here, rooted deeply in oral tradition.
Every student and professor in attendance on Monday, February 10 had the opportunity to read original works for the Department of English’s first Open Mic night of the semester. Professors Tom C. Hunley and Jessica Folk were in attendance, both reading pieces for the audience. Students of all different backgrounds and majors came out and shared their work.
Open Mic Nights are held monthly on campus and have traditionally been organized by students. With limited publication opportunities, campus Open Mic nights provide a low pressure environment for students to present their work.
Cloverport, KY junior Noah Powers has attended Open Mic nights for several semesters. At the event, he presented a poem focusing on the bonds created from familial loss via a narrative of langur monkeys. Powers spoke on the importance of Open Mic nights.
“I would like to be a poet one day so it gives me an opportunity to practice reading poetry in front of a crowd of people that I mostly don’t know,” Powers said.
For students looking toward careers in creative writing, Open Mic nights not only provide an outlet for performance, but they also build confidence that can be useful when submitting to more selective publications. Many students identify with Powers, finding it easier to read new work in front of audiences they don’t know, rather than for classmates.
Beyond publication, students have the opportunity to listen to their peers read original works. Readers, such as Powers, feel they glean inspiration from listening to others read their works. Additionally, anyone who appreciates written work can come to Open Mic nights and enjoy the relaxed environment, while gaining insight on what their peers are writing. Students at the open mic learn in real time how writing is presented.
“It was delightful. I got to share my own poetry in a safe space and I got to experience the wonderful poetry of my peers,” Powers said. “There are a lot of talented writers in the English department so it was great to hear them be on the mic. It’s all wonderful stuff.”