Students Share Their Writing at Professor Chelsea Campbell’s Virtual Open Mic

Southern Utah University English professor Chelsea Campbell hosted her third smallest virtual open mic night Feb. 10.

Four students attended the Feb. 10 open mic and read poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction.

Campbell shared that the readings “give life” to the pieces that the students read, so they are important to hold as an opportunity to writers despite the decreased attendance.

“It’s too often really abstract to be writing and not have someone to listen to or read it,” Campbell said. “And when we have readings, we get to bring those things together.”

Campbell also said the open mics overcome writing’s somewhat reclusive nature.

“Writing is such an isolatory experience,” she said. “One of the things we’re doing in college is almost artificially exploding that for a while and giving you a community.”

Campbell has been hosting open mics for students and faculty for around two years, so she had hosted approximately six of these events before moving her instruction online as a result of the COVIID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Even though the readers at the Feb. 10 open mic were focused on their  writing, Campbell encouraged other types of performances at the next open mic this semester. She said that, “in the before-times” there would be more comedy and music performances and wants to bring these back.

Campbell said that before the shift to online readings, she would have around 20-30 participants. Campbell speculated that students are “zoomed out,” and are too tired of the format to keep attending events on Zoom.

“Online open mics are a compromised version,” Campbell said. “At these, we’ve had more people earlier in the year. This last one that only had four people was the smallest one we’ve had.”

The decline in attendance hasn’t discouraged Campbell’s open mics. She suggested that even if an attendee isn’t on the “same wavelength” with a reader’s piece, that they’re still being forced into a seat and to consider other approaches to craft and language. Readings in general offer an opportunity for the mind to wander and be inspired, Campbell said.

Campbell’s next open mic event will be March 24 at 6 p.m., and will be the final one for the Spring 2021 Semester.

Story by Janzen Jorgensen
Photo by Bogomil Mihaylov