SWA Open Mic

Erin Hill, Creative Writing and Literature freshman, reads a piece inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s tonal characteristics. Photo by Chris Dorantes.

On Feb. 7, the Creative Writing and Literature Department’s Student Writers Association held its first Open Mic Night of the semester in O’Shaughnessy Performance Space. Students from every major and grade level were invited to sign up for five-minute timeslots and read anything they wanted: works in progress, finished pieces, something they scribbled in a journal an hour beforehand. Santa Fe University of Art and Design has an active community of creative students who share their work and support each other at concerts, formal readings and open mics hosted by various departments such as the Contemporary Music Performance Department.

This reading proved to be a strong start to the semester as readers and listeners both showed up and attentively participated. Amongst others, Judy Ripley read an excerpt from an inventive hermit crab essay, August Edwards read a thoughtful piece about monarch butterflies, Madeleine Sardina read an excerpt from a short modern fantasy fiction piece. Erin Hill, a freshman CWL student, read a piece she worked on in fiction class. “I wanted to read it for the open mic because I thought that my tone and voice really spoke to setting,” Hill says.

The variety of work was refreshing, especially when it came to Charles Simon, a junior Arts Business Management student. He approached the podium, letting the audience know he hadn’t written for a while. He read from a notebook and playfully interacted with the audience before explaining candidly how he’s going through a period of growth and how that’s shown in his art. The entire room listened and reacted warmly to his words, confirming just how welcoming Open Mic Night is. “They offer a safe place for us artists to express our feelings,” Simon says.

Charles Simon, an Arts Business Management student, reads his piece at Open Mic Night. Photo by Chris Dorantes.

After the students who signed up finished, SWA members invited anyone else interested in reading to take the stage. Even if writers forget to sign up, SWA tries to leave space at the end so anyone who wants to can participate. When all of the reading was over, the SWA members went to the front to draw names for the raffle that each attendee was entered in. “Our raffles are new, so it’s in somewhat of a test stage right now. It’s mostly to draw more participation and excitement, and I think it went really well this first time. Our prizes are writerly of course: notebooks and gift cards,” Kylie Yockey, SWA officer and senior CWL student, says.

SWA members say they try to have Open Mic Nights once a month as long as they aren’t competing with Creative Writing and Literature department events. “It just further encourages supporting your peers and their art and engaging in a student community, a keystone objective of all SWA endeavors,” Yockey says.

The group dedicates its time to hosting writing-based events and meetings for the entire campus. “Besides our regular meetings, we’re also introducing game nights, continuing our student-led seminars, planning some Outdoor Vision Fest ideas and in April we’re having our first major event: the 24-hour writing marathon at the library. We’re super excited about that,” Yockey says.

The Student Writers Association meets at 8 p.m., Tuesdays in Alexis Hall.