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The Scarlet & Black

Bob’s Underground Cafe hosts writer’s open-mic

Students and faculty alike came to the writer’s open-mic, hosted by the English SEPC, to share their works. Photo by Elena Copell.

By Chloe Wray

The English student educational policy committee (SEPC) brought open-mic back to Bob’s Underground Café this week on Thursday, March 9, from 8 to 10 p.m., for writers and listeners. In previous years, open-mic nights were hosted at Bob’s on a bi-weekly basis. Historically, Bob’s open-mic nights have featured stand-up comedy, singing and readings. Since Bob’s has been on hiatus this year, closed until further notice, students have not had access to a casual setting in which to share their work or passion.

“People at Grinnell are constantly creating things — we have an active student body that has ideas and creating an open-mic space I think is important for that, just to allow people to see what other people are doing and have that shared space,” said Megan Tcheng ’19, a member of the English SEPC.

For SEPC member Andrea Baumgartel ’19, the workshopping aspect of creative writing classes has been especially rewarding, and an opportunity that she feels may be hard to find outside of the classroom setting.

“Writing is such a solitary endeavor so when you get those opportunities to share your work and hear the works of other people and bounce inspirations off each other it can be a really great and supportive environment,” Baumgartel said.

While the open-mic was supported by the English Department, as the SEPC is encouraged to host events outside of its departmental tasks, the event celebrated the creativity of writers across majors.

English SEPC member Steven Duong ’19 encouraged people to share any works that they were proud of, whether it be poems, short stories or memoirs. Baumgartel, who attended the Concerned Black Students Showcase on March 2, said that she heard many poems recited and hoped that those students attend the event as well.

“Because poetry is such a large term, there are so many forms of it and so many ways you can write poetry and read it,” Baumgartel said.

“With that being said, we want range — people can read five minutes of something they’ve been working on. It can be in progress, it doesn’t have to be polished,” Tcheng added.

The event aimed to extend beyond students in the English department and invited faculty and staff to also attend. According to Duong and Baumgartel, both Professors Carolyn Jacobsen and John Garrison attended.

It was also important to members of the SEPC that those who just wanted to listen felt comfortable attending the event in support of their peers. 

“I think our main goal is to try to create these spaces not just for students who are directly involved in the English department but to create creative space where ideas can be shared and just encourage that side of the Grinnell community to be active and find opportunities to share their work and get feedback and be heard,” Tcheng said.

“It’s definitely like a guinea pig though, we haven’t done this before,” Duong said. Baumgartel added that the event has the potential to be carried over by future SEPC members in the years to come.

Students and faculty alike came to the writer’s open-mic, hosted by the English SEPC, to share their works. Photo by Elena Copell.
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