South Open Mic Celebrates National Day on Writing


Osasere Ewansiha/San Jacinto Times

Prof. Monae Irvin pumped up the crowd to the sounds of ‘Wobble’ and ‘Cupid Shuffle’ Oct. 22 on the South Campus.

In the Student Center on the San Jacinto College South Campus, a raised platform adorned the front of the room. On it stood a single microphone stand. Everyone watched silently as Speech Professor Monae Irvin walked across the stage holding a sign-up sheet.

“Does anyone want to go first?” she asked.

No one came forward with something to say.

Irvin played music and performed first to boost the crowd’s confidence and generate momentum. Then one by one, attendees stepped up to the platform with something to say.

The open mic on the South Campus took place Oct. 22 as part of a series of events across the academic campuses celebrating the National Day on Writing. The campuses commemorated the day with unique festivities of their own; the Central Campus on Oct. 23 and North Campus on Oct. 24.

National Day on Writing, a national celebration of the written word endorsed by the NCTE, an organization of English teachers, is celebrated across the country on Oct. 20.

The organizer of the day’s events on the South Campus, English Professor Christina Crawford, said “anybody and everybody” was welcome to participate in the public forum.

“An open mic is a stage with a microphone and an invitation to anybody who’s got something to say, something to share,” she said.

Crawford said past events featured a wide variety of acts ranging from music to stand-up routines to comedy skits, like a routine from Gallagher where the comedian smashes watermelons as a part of his act.

“We have had students bring instruments and play guitar at the open mic,” she added. “Most students share poetry. You can share a favorite poem.”

Irvin acted as the Master of Ceremonies for the first hour of the open mic, followed by Crawford for the remainder of the event. Irvin began the program by pumping up the crowd to the songs “Wobble” and “Cupid Shuffle.” She performed the first act and over the course of the event, performed three poems, including Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”

Other acts included singing, more poetry recitations, and a performance of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid.

In addition to the open mic, the National Day on Writing featured free coffee and cake, and games where students played against professors. Also, a creator’s space was open in the library where students, Crawford explained, could “interact creatively.”

Later in the day, a panel discussion hosted guests discussing careers in the writing fields. 

“Last year, it was a really big hit,” Crawford said before the panel began, “It was very cool.”

Although the open mic ended earlier than planned, the audience applauded and cheered after every performance. As she and others started breaking down the stage, Crawford quickly reflected and contently concluded the event was “fun” and “had good student involvement and participation.”

Once again, the stage was empty, but this time instead of silence, chatter was churning between the students who lingered in their seats.

“They were very brave,” student and attendee Atziri Galarza said as she looked at the empty stage, “It was a great opportunity for people to express themselves.”