Embracing the University’s proud artistic culture, the English Majors Committee held an open mic last Friday, Oct. 4 in Downey House, home of the English Department. The first twenty minutes of the event were reserved for the featured poet of the night, Shapiro-Silverburg Professor of Creative Writing Elizabeth Willis. For the remainder of the evening, students of various class years and majors stepped up to the mic and shared emotions, thoughts, and sheer creativity.
The English Majors Committee attempts to organize events such as this once a semester in order to gather majors and non-majors with an appreciation for writing.
“Simply put, we hope to foster a community of writers and lovers of writing that want to share their work and support each other,” wrote Aron Chilewich ’14, a member of the Committee, in an email to The Argus. “[These events] help foster intellectual and artistic communities outside the classroom.”
This particular open mic seemed to accomplish that goal. It provided writers hoping to take new risks with a supportive setting in which to do so. This rare feeling of community flourished on Friday, exemplified by the respect and support audience members gave to all writers: students who seemed to have never met each other before the event commended their peers on readings.
The committee chose Willis in particular for numerous reasons, particularly because of the uniqueness and relatability of her work. Willis is a highly distinguished poet and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012.
The poems, novel excerpts, and short stories read at the open mic moved the audience to laughter, grief, and, at times, amazement. Thesis poetry by Kayla Stoler ’14 painted a picture of war, exploring how artists on both sides of conflict depict war in art. The reading of a story by Zac Ginsburg ’14 about a rapper on a space station was eccentric in all the best ways: the story provocatively details a moment when, for unknown reasons, the rapper throws a lamp at a sexual partner. The diversity of the writing truly showcased the talent of Wesleyan students.
This semester, the English Majors Committee will host upcoming events such as a thesis lecture series for English majors, an alumni panel, and a discussion by English professors regarding their own research.