Marr’s Field Journal is encouraging self-expression with their newest project, in open mic night at the Ferguson Center Starbucks as part of their Third Thursday series.
The first open mic night was hosted Sept. 19. Ten to 15 performers were introduced to “the square,” for lack of a stage, where a crowd gathered and moved tables forward to get a better view. The event ran from 7-9:30 p.m., with the last half-hour open to performers who didn’t sign up for a spot. The next open mic night will take place on Oct. 17.
While most of last Thursday’s performers read poetry or prose, Marr’s Field Journal Editor Amber Brown said the mic will remain available to any kind of expression.
“If you wanna get up there and sing a song with a guitar, if you wanna paint to alternative music, we’re open to everything,” Brown said.
The idea for the open mic started with Andrea Dobynes, graduate assistant to the Office of Student Media. Dobynes said when she was an undergraduate she jumped at any opportunity to recite her spoken-word poetry, but the opportunities were scarce.
“I performed at every spoken-word event I possibly could because I just loved it,” Dobynes said. “Anywhere they let me, I was there. It could be in McDonalds, [and] I’m performing.”
Brown said many outlets that host similar events are limited to certain groups or are not advertised to the general campus population.
“I’d say there’s a lack of open expression,” Brown said. “It’s great that we have so many talented English and creative writing people, but that’s not the only talent that we have on campus.”
Leah Dunkel, a senior majoring in telecommunication and film, and Cayce Savage, a senior majoring in fashion photography, took the stage under the name “I Can End My Sentences With Prepositions if I Want To,” and sang together while Dunkel played the ukulele.
Dunkel said she was grateful for the opportunity for amateur artists to perform along with seasoned professionals.
“It’s an accepting atmosphere,” Dunkel said. “I’m not exceptionally skilled, so it’s nice for people of different levels to have that chance.”
Lee Johnson, a senior majoring in early childhood education, brought his Christian soul music to the mic, promoting the album he is selling on iTunes and taking fan requests. He prefaced his song, “Alive,” with the reminder that, “It’s one thing to be alive, and it’s another to just exist.”
Johnson said he had played at several other open mics like the Ferguson Center Xpress Night.
“When I was younger, and I see this in young education, I had that desire to go and share,” Johnson said. “There’s definitely a need for these platforms.”
Brown, who read her own poetry at the open mic, said she expects the program to grow and change as more people hear about it and decide to express themselves at the mic. She said she is proud that Marr’s Field Journal can take responsibility for self-expression on campus.
“Here’s a creative outlet for you,” Brown said. “Go with it, do what you will.”