Point Loma Nazarene University’s Point Poets Society had its first Open Mic Night of the semester on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at McCullough Park. According to a promo posted on their Instagram, they will be hosting three Open Mic Nights this fall; the next one will be on Nov. 8 also at McCullough Park from 6 to 8 p.m. and the last one will be at the ARC (Activities and Recreation Center) on Dec. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. According to the book club’s page, the vision of the club is to create a space for students who love literature in all forms to enjoy and foster that love outside of school.
Open Mic Night invites students to share their original or unoriginal work through various literary forms not limited to poetry. The club provides free pizza, hot chocolate and other refreshments and encourages attendees to bring a mug and warm blanket.
Vice President of the Point Poets Society and fourth-year philosophy major Claire Downey said Open Mic Night started a few years back and is open to all students to promote inclusivity and community over the shared love for books and writing.
“Open Mics started when Chip Roberts founded the club,” Downey said. “It was another side event the book club wanted to put on in order to give students the space to share their writing or any piece of literature that has inspired them. They’re super fun! The energy that is present at Open Mics is always exciting. Seeing your friends up on the chair in the lamplight reading their words is inspiring— it makes you want to go up there and share something meaningful as well.”
Students are encouraged to share but are also welcome to simply listen. Those who do feel compelled to share each take turns speaking into the mic while sitting in an antique chair with a lamp table on its side.
“The chair is also Chip’s! An iconic antique chair that I think they found at a thrift store or estate sale, something like that? But it’s kind of like the symbol of the club now, so it is continuously passed on from council to council,” Downey said.
Students are invited to share any and every type of literary form of their choosing. Some examples of what students share include reading their favorite song lyrics, reading a chapter from their favorite book, sharing personal essays or reading pieces from some of their favorite authors and poets. Downey said she joined the club as a sophomore after always wanting to be a part of a book club.
“I joined PPS when I was a sophomore,” Downey said. “I had always wanted to join a book club and this one was fairly brand new on campus at the time so I really wanted to be one of its members. I became a member of the ‘council of elders’, as we like to call it, last year and now I’m Vice President which has been such a fun gig!”
As attendees listen to others sharing, a list is passed around to give everyone the opportunity to put their name on the sign-up sheet and share regardless if they came prepared or not.
“I just love that it’s an opportunity to hang out with book nerds on campus,” Downey said. “I love to read, so I’ve loved that there’s a space where I could come to meet fellow readers and talk about literature for a little while.”
Downey also shared that the Point Poets Society introduced her to new people she might have met had she not joined the club. She said having meaningful conversations about books with your friends adds another dimension to reading them.
Third-year graphic design student Anika Poulsen started attending Open Mic Night when she transferred to PLNU two and a half years ago but she only stopped in for five minutes the first time.
“I think writing is such a great outlet and I think it’s cool that people can share that vulnerable side of themselves with each other,” Poulsen said. “I think that it’s also cool that people can sit in a comfy antique chair and cryptically share trauma in a way. Plus free hot chocolate!”
The Point Poets Society also hosts a book club which meets every two weeks on Tuesdays from 6 to 7 p.m. on the Fermanian Patio next to the Fermanian Business Center. This semester’s book pick is “The Secret History” by Donna Tart.
The first book club meeting will take place on Oct. 3. Club counsel members also include third-year political science major Tessa Balc, who encourages students to attend book club and Open Mic Night gatherings even if time constraints have not allowed them to read the book or prepare something to share.
Several Open Mic Night attendees started by sharing poems from their favorite poets and then switched to sharing original pieces. One student asked listeners to pick a number from one to 143 and would use that to determine which poem she would read from a popular classic, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein.
Third-year graphic design major Maura Griffin has been coming to Open Mic Night for two years now and said it’s one of her favorite events to attend.
“I was invited by some friends before I read or wrote poetry and then it really opened up a love for noticing things in my life and writing them down on paper,” Griffin said. “It also showed me how to slow life down. I now take more time to stop, notice and write it down maybe to later share with others.”
At the end of Open Mic Night, students continued the conversation by lingering to talk, laugh and congratulate one another for sharing.
“To anyone wanting to join, I would say to just come to a meeting and hang out,” Downey said. “If you love to read, write, or just talk about poetry and literature it’s the perfect place to be! Even if you don’t like any of that or have the time to read a book with us, we still love it when people come and hang out during our meetings! And Open Mics are free for anyone to participate in, member or not, so that’s also a fun way to get involved in a fun writing world.”
To learn more about Point Poets Society and the events they have planned for this year, visit their Instagram page @pointpoetssociety