The Open Expressions open mic night took place on Thursday, May 16 at PT's Coffee on College Hill directly across from campus. Sign-ups were at 6:30 p.m. and the performances began at 7 p.m. The open mic event takes place every third Thursday of the month, and is open to any and all kinds of performances, although the majority is spoken word and poetry. The event is hosted by local podcast Sunflower Sutras which is managed by Washburn Alumni Ryan Thompson and Tara Bartley.
Commenting on why they put together the podcast and open mic events, Thompson said, "A lot of it is we know a lot of good writers here, we know a lot of really talented people in this city, kind of give people a voice, showcase them, show the world what the city has to offer."
"Part of it is this frustration at the idea that, oh you wanna go to a cool open mic event or you wanna go to a cool arts events? Oh you gotta go to Lawrence or you gotta leave town," Bartley said.
Bartley continued by saying, "We're not just poetry, we're an actual open mic open to everything. The joke is that we want everyone, including jugglers."
"Don't feel like you have to have something super-polished or whatever, this is a great place to try out something if you're working on a piece," Thompson said.
"There's several people that have come up here and they've been like, "this is my first time ever performing" and that's happened several times and it keeps happening. It's blowing my mind. We're getting so many fresh, new voices here. This is a great testing ground. We're not going to judge you," Bartley said.
The event featured poems and musical instruments. The poems discussed a wide variety of topics, including politics. Performances were given by people of all ages as well. The Sunflower Sutras podcast was selling copies of their monthly collection of poems, sections of short stories, parts of novels and even theatrical stage plays in "The Su Su Zine." Copies of The Su Su Zine cost $2.
Fred Appelhanz, musician, poet and long-time patron of open mic events, enjoyed the evening and thought highly of the potential these events possess, "I think it's a wonderful opportunity and great setting for poets and musicians to get out and express themselves and get used to playing or talking in front of people. It's a wonderful opportunity for people to express themselves because a lot of these poems are from the heart, from the gut, so it's almost cathartic for some people to be reciting their poems that they've taken a lot of time to put down on paper."
The next Open Expressions open mic night is tentatively scheduled for June 20. Sign-ups begin at 6:30 p.m. and performances begin at 7 p.m. The Su Su Zine is also currently accepting submissions for inclusion in future issues. Be sure to check out Sunflower Sutras on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SunflowerSutras/.
Edited by Joelle Conway and Abbie Barth