Student Writers Association

Alumn Brandon Brown holds up open mic sign-up sheet. Photo by Charlotte Renken

Alumn Brandon Brown holds up open mic sign-up sheet. Photo by Charlotte Renken

Snow fell outside the small cozy lounge in Alexis Hall on Feb. 2 as students read at the first Student Writers Association open mic of the spring semester. Each reader is given approximately five minutes to read for an audience of peers a work they are proud of, stumped on or anywhere in between. The smattering of works included a variety of genres, among them: lyric essays, flash fiction, things described as “absurd,” poetry and spoken word. Some pieces are longer, some are shorter and each is in its own stage of development as final drafts or firsts. The atmosphere is lively during the event, occasionally erupting in laughter or falling into reflective silence.

SWA officers Andrew Koss, and Amaya Garza, listen intently. Photo by Charlotte Renken

SWA officers Andrew Koss and Amaya Garza listen intently. Photo by Charlotte Renken

Creative Writing and Literature alumnus Brandon Brown described it as, “part of my routine,” saying, “it’s always good to hear [the piece] out loud.” CWL alumna Leticia Gonzales had a similar perspective. “It’s a great place to test things,” she says, “and it’s always good to read in front of a critical audience.”  SWA Officer Melinda Freudenberger gave a similar response regarding the importance of hearing work aloud, while also noting the open mics establish “a strong community of writers writing stronger work.”

Open mics are periodical for SWA, supplementing regular meetings every Tuesday at 8 p.m. on the first floor in Alexis Hall, unless there is a larger Creative Writing and Literature event. Meetings typically include writing exercises and discussions, as they generate works of flash fiction, poetry or flash nonfiction. The writing exercises this semester are targeted toward the specific theme of “excretions.” “[It] can be a lot of different things, it doesn’t have to be something particularly gross,” Andrew Koss, one of five SWA officers, says in response to the theme. These exercises will be included in SWA’s upcoming print project, a zine called Coffee Spoons, “that will be combining and collecting the work that [SWA attendees] have been writing, including works from the fall semester.” The zine, Koss says, has a tentative release date of May 4 and will be a physical copy of compiled and scanned writing exercises. “We want it to look as DIY as possible,” Freudenberger says.

All SWA events are open to all CWL students and students in other majors interested in writing. “We’ve got a lot of promising new students that come in,” Koss says, “I’m really excited about what I’ve seen thus far.”