Literary Open Mic Night becomes ‘a nice atmosphere’ for CLU community

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Olivia Madera

The crowd gathers around to listen as Jasmine Chang shares one of her own poems at the mic.

Olivia Madera, Reporter

Jack’s Corner was filled with the sound of chatter, poetry and prose as the California Lutheran University English Department hosted their first Literary Open Mic Night of the year. English Department Assistants Tenchi Wells and Caroline Lopez hosted the event to invite students to share any form of their creative writing with the crowd. The English Department hosts Literary Open Mic Nights on the last Friday of every month. 

When asked about the history of Literary Open Mic Night, Caroline Lopez said that Riley Civerolo Douglas and Bella DePhillipo, who were the English department assistants at the time, first started the event during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown. Lopez said that it was through Zoom, and it was difficult to gain awareness and participation by hosting it online. 

Because of the loosening of COVID-19 protocols, the English Department was able to bring back the event for the first time this year on campus at Jack’s Corner.

“I think we did our first last November, so it was cold, and we had a fire out there and it was just a nice atmosphere,” Lopez said. 

During the event, students sat underneath Jack’s string lights near the open fire pit while enjoying cookies and hot chocolate provided by the English Department. Lopez said that the environment is very fun and supportive with mostly the same group that they always have.

“We’ll have inside jokes, it’s just really fun, and we have a tradition that we started at the end of every open mic of reading ‘Birches’ by Robert Frost,” Lopez said. 

The English Department encourages all students, regardless if they are academically affiliated with the English Department, to perform their work. People are asked to email the department assistants prior to participating, but Lopez said that people mostly just show up and read their work off their notes app. 

The lineup for the night consisted of Caroline Lopez, Megan Satorius, Jasmine Chang, Tenchi Wells and Ash Langtry. After performing, Langtry said that they enjoy sharing their own spoken-word poetry. They also encouraged others to support their friends and the English Department and to have a fun time. Lopez added that you can read anything that you may like whether it be your own creative work or someone else’s, and you don’t have to participate if you don’t want to.

 “They create a nice atmosphere, they definitely make everyone feel welcomed, they encourage everyone, really confidence-boosting. Everyone is welcome,” Langtry said. 

Associate English Professor Jacqueline Lyons said that she loves the variety of genres and writing styles students bring to Open Mic Night. 

“I come whenever I can because I like to hear what students are doing. A lot of these people are students in my creative writing classes,” Lyons said. 

In her classes, Lyons said that she teaches about past and present U.S. poet laureates. Since she has been reading and preparing to teach about the new U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón, Lyons read one of her poems at Open Mic Night. She welcomes and encourages others to come and listen to the creative writing works that students present. 

As a department assistant, Lopez said that the event is fairly easy for her and Wells to launch, which includes reserving Jack’s Corner through Campus Services, sending out the invitations and posting about the event on social media. Lopez said that the English Department is thinking of coordinating monthly Open Mic Nights with specific themes as well as collaborating with the Musician’s club to hopefully do a joint Open Mic Night together. Lopez said that she and Wells want the event to grow as much as possible and to expand it beyond the small group they currently have. 

“It is fun to create a sense of community because we are such a small department. It is fun to kind of come together in this way, and it’s something that we all enjoy,” Lopez said.