Last Wednesday, instead of the group’s standard weekly meeting, TU’s Reading and Writing Club held an Open Mic Night event. The event was held in the Student Union Alcove, which fit the group’s modest needs (16 chairs and two tables for food and a presentation signup sheet) very well.
One complaint I had from the start was how long it took for the event to begin. I arrived a few minutes late, around 7:05, but the readings didn’t start until 7:18. The event itself went from that point until around 7:46, which means a 28 minute event took 18 minutes to begin. It certainly didn’t detract from the event itself, but it would be nice to have a more strict event schedule.
The event itself consisted of about 10 people presenting anywhere between one and three poems they had written. Themes and inspirations ranged from love and childhood nostalgia to thematic recreations of popular rap albums. One person also performed an acapella rap of Twenty One Pilots’ “Car Radio,” in what may have been one of the most unexpected throwbacks to the Hot Topic days I’ve worked so hard to distance myself from.
Generally, most of the presenters had the same strengths and weaknesses. Among the writers’ strengths was their use of colorful descriptions to conjure up vivid images. I was impressed by how multiple poets were able to take the same theme in different directions, and I never had a moment where it seemed to me like a particular line didn’t fit together with the others.
The general weakness was a lack of performance energy to accompany the readings. Often, people were simply reading directly from their papers or phones without much inflection change or emphasis on particular lines or words. The poems themselves were solid, but the levels of physicality and emotion that take a simple reading and make it a performance weren’t present.
Of course, quality performance comes with practice, which is exactly what RAW is providing. Even though I just listened, I enjoyed the event and it provides good experience and opportunity for community and feedback among TU’s poets.