This week’s article is something a little different, as we give our review of The Saintly Review’s first ever Open Mic Night. This article goes up hot on the heels of the event, so we can relive the excitement, fun, drama, and everything else that made this little hour into a special moment in the JYC, one that’s worth experimenting with more as the Saintly Review continues onward.
This event would not have been possible without the commitment of a small but dedicated group of Saintly editors, so we have to give a shout out to Abigail, Jill, Katie, Michael, Molly, Sophie, and Tim who found herself roped into the Master of Ceremonies position and handled it with grace and a sense of humor. Whether it was making the connections with Marc from OSI, or trouble shooting the mic until we got it to work reliably, or finding the grace and humor to fly through a reluctant Master of Ceremonies role, there were plenty of challenges to getting this project off the ground, and it’s some kind of miracle that we made it work.
The event was hosted at 7-8pm in the JYC, the main nerve center of the campus, just towards the tail end of dinner. Despite minimal promotion, the event leveraged its location and the charisma of its speakers for some remarkable catch-and-release success. People coming and going through the dining hall caught sight of an interesting thing, and decided to lurk around and join in the fun. It’s a moving reminder of the power of the spoken word to provoke emotion and bring a community together.
Which brings us to the pieces themselves. While musical performances were presented as an option on the sign-up sheets, most people opted for poetry, short fiction, stand up, and in some cases, dramatic readings of lyrics. (Not that I’m complaining; I hate that out-of-tune piano in the JYC with a purple passion). The night played fast and loose with genre, form, and tone, and MC Jill encouraged people to come up and share their stories at every turn. The night opened with some short fiction from Katie Lynch, reading her coming-of-age short story “Bloodstains”, and later in the night she returned with “The Miserable Wretch”, a feminist retelling of “Diamonds and Toads” by Charles Perrault. Abigail Lavallee performed three heart-rending poems in which she examined her relationships to love, loss, and her own inner world. And newcomer Sofie Weiss made a lasting impression with her own original poem, a reflection on the sacred darkness. Sofie is a first-year Emmanuel student who at present is studying sociology, but her art exemplifies the written and spoken word’s relevance across disciplines.
That paragraph makes it sound intense and meditative, but believe me when I say that what brought this event to life were the goofier, playful, comedic moments and stories. Madison Suitor got the ball rolling with a stand up act based on the colorful characters she’s met on the Green Line to and from her internship. Tim Hanley took us on a wild ride with his late uncle Ernie and the … complexities of his romance with a woman he met at Waffle House. And Anthony (who never did give this reporter a last name) brought us home with a recap of his encounter with a particularly strange goose, even by the already curved standard against which we have to judge these beady eyed buggers.
Then there were the things that fell outside of the normative boundaries, just moments of creative nonsense that gave people a chance to express themselves in a way that’s only possible in moments like this. Lacey and Taylor gave a hilarious read of the much-memed William Carlos Williams poem, “This is Just to Say”, dedicated to Professor Dan Murphy. Two performers who did not stick around to give names restaged a scene from a favorite movie, and called for audience participation to identify the film in question (Scooby-Doo: The Movie, naturally). But far and away, the nuclear nonsense prize goes to Abigail, who found and recited an excerpt from that great purveyor of the bizarre, WattPad. I’m not sure I have her consent to tell the internet what exactly she read, but believe me, it shines.
And that was the Saintly Open Mic Night. Some sensitive and moving material, some bananas material. There were revisions of centuries old stories, and there were anecdotes and jokes that found the magic in everyday college life. Against all odds, we put something together that we’re proud of. The current Review is being edited and compiled, and the semester is coming to a close. As everything piles up, there’s a simple joy in moments like this were we sit together as a community and uplift each other’s capacity for creativity. We did something remarkable tonight, and here’s to hoping that we keep that energy going in the weeks to come.