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Department of English and Modern Languages presents Writers Fest: Open Mic 

Bella Mezzacapo photojournalist 

On Monday March 27 at 6pm at TJ Leland’s, the department of English and Modern languages hosted Writers Fest, an open mic event. The event was planned by PSU’s Creative Writing Program. This event was open to the public, high school students, and university students as an opportunity to learn from authors. Authors at the event included Laura Lee Washburn, Lori Martin, Chris Anderson, and Olive Sullivan. 

At the event, there were books on sale for the English department by the authors that were present. In addition, the department purchased and provided food from Toast and Ron’s Grocery Store as well as a lot of pizza purchased by the President Dan Shipp’s office. 

“So, tonight’s just like our super casual hanging out, poetry love fest, open mic,” author and host Laura Washburn said. “Karen’s publisher, Olive’s publisher, and my publisher, Tracy, is here and she is selling some books for the English department where the money will go back to the Creative Writing program. She is selling some books for me where the money will go back to me. So, we were going to ask everybody to pitch in and get pizza, but it turned out that I could use my festival budget to get some stuff from Toast and a veggie tray from Ron’s, and then the President’s Office said he’d pay for a pizza.” 

Throughout the night, authors, students, community members, alumni, and many more partook in the open mic event. Some watched and listened while others shared their craft—poetry. 

“I grew up most of my life in a rural area,” said author Lori Martin. “And so, some of these poems are reflective of that. I’ve always had this lifelong fascination with deer. So, one poem that I will be reading is called ‘The Doe Keep.’ Another one is called ‘Rabid Skunk.’ This one is a, well, it is a true story. You know, when you live in rural areas, you encounter these things sometimes and, you always think the authorities are going to sort of take care of stuff for you? Right? Right, but they don’t. All right, well it was enlightening. And it begins with an epigraph; Just burn it.” 

The night’s theme was true stories and reflections of the past. Many writers write about what they know, so true stories are common in that realm, whether about nature, parenting, life as a child, and many topics were covered and read about at Writers Fest. 

Not all poets who read their pieces at the event were practiced and experienced authors, though. Some were Pittsburg State University alumni as well as students.  

“I keep doing open mics hoping that the exposure therapy will make me less nervous at doing open mics, and it hasn’t kicked in yet,” said PSU alum, Ellie Davis. “So, we’ll give it about 10 more open mics before I’m breathing regularly.” 

Although Davis may have been nervous, she presented something that none of the others did. One of Davis’s pieces was an experimental poem. Experimentalism is a part of modernism and postmodernist literature where the writer takes a risk and tries strange and new techniques to create something that has never been seen before. 

This next poem is called ‘Word of the Day,’” said Davis. “Some of you may play ‘Wordle.’ There’s also a game called ‘Semantle,’ where you guess the word of the day and it tells you how close, semantically, you are to that word. [‘Word of the Day’] is an experimental poem, it’s a rhyme poem where you take every word and you rhyme it with the next word, and you come up with a new phrase. So, it’s also a gibberish poem and a lot of it doesn’t make sense.” 

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