The University Writing Committee hosted its Open Mic Night dedicated to the National Day on Writing from 9 p.m. to 11 p. m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
Students gave performances in five different categories for a chance to win prizes. Door prizes were also offered to audience members who registered and were drawn at random throughout the night.
The five categories students could participate in were video, comedy, song, poetry and short stories. Three judges – two students and rhetoric and professional writing professor Fenobia Dallas – determined who won each category at the end of the night. Each winner received a $50 cash prize.
Door prizes included gift cards to Starbucks and Applebee’s. Free pizza and other refreshments were also provided.
Staff members set up a stage and chairs in the Student Life Rotunda in full view of passing foot traffic. Several students registered to speak or perform. More filtered in to give impromptu performances once they saw the event going on and a chance for prize money.
The audience also grew over time as students saw the performances while walking through the area.
The National Day on Writing occurred on Oct. 20 and is organized by the National Council of Teachers of English, a national organization that helps to set policy and pedagogy for English and writing across the country. The council started the day to share and celebrate all different kinds of writing.
The RPW department also created a virtual “Wall of Writing” in a shared online document where, similar to the open mic night, students could share their writing freely.
The wall can be viewed at the writing committee’s website.
“For those who want to participate, I think it’s a great way to share things they’ve done,” said Scott Kowalewski, a professor of rhetoric and professional writing. “The things that we write are meant to be shared, and this is an opportunity to do that.”
Nathan Hernandez, a creative writing sophomore, read an original poem at the open mic. “One thing that people can get out of just being here to witness people perform is seeing what their fellow students have to offer, and maybe things that the specific majors other students are studying have to offer,” Hernandez said. “For me, I’ve never really performed my writing outside of the classroom, so I guess I’m just hoping to get some exposure.”