Throughout the year, Southern Utah University’s English Department has hosted Open Mic nights to give students and staff the opportunity to share their creative works.
Hosting about three a semester, Chelsea Campbell, the Associate Professor of the English Department organizes the events.
Campbell explained that the events are not limited to poetry or fiction, and that all forms of art are welcome. In the past, SUU students have even shared their original musical pieces.
Although the spring semester got cut short, students still had the opportunity to share their work at the last Open Mic. With a smaller audience, writers seemed to feel more comfortable sharing what they had written, several of the performers getting up several times to read.
Geneva Williams, a psychology major who just began writing poetry this past year, shared two of her poems. Both of her pieces focused on vulnerable and important themes of self love and body image, and her powerful voice made everyone stop and listen.
“I like sharing my work because I like reading what I write. I hope that [the audience] can relate,” Williams said.
Professor Rhett Cooper shared excerpts from his unpublished first book, bringing energy and life to the room.
For some, the events function not only as a way to share their creative works, but as a way to get feedback. For Ash Draney, an English major with a philosophy minor, the events help her on a larger scale.
“It helps to get feedback. But it also helps me with my anxiety of public speaking,” Draney said.
Draney shared an impactful creative nonfiction piece that focused on a theme of mental health. Inspired by one of her friends, the story was called “Life About Mars.”
Campbell made sure to make everyone feel welcome, introducing herself and asking each student their name as they walked in. The event held an atmosphere that made both experienced writers, like Professor Cooper, and beginners, like Williams, feel safe to share their work.
Story by: Elizabeth Armstrong