The new year’s first open mic night was hosted in the Scott Studio Theater on Jan. 17 by Sophomore Rylie Felton. Felton started First Verse last year as a poetry workshop group for students, continuing later on with open mic performances.
First Verse was an event open to all Hastings College students. It started at 7 p.m. and lasted for an hour. A handful of HC students were willing to stand in front of their peers and perform original works.
Some students read poetry, while others read prose. One student went up to perform their own stand-up comedy. Many attended simply to watch and support those performing.
Felton performed a poem she wrote herself titled “10 Things About Being Short with a Baby Face,” as it is a classic tradition for the host to perform the first piece.
According to Felton, the first piece is usually light and funny to start the event off with good vibes and energies, since oftentimes things can get emotionally heavy, based on what performers decide to share with the audience.
Felton gave those attending some tips beforehand. She taught the proper way to hold the microphone and how loud to speak. At this time, performers were encouraged to give trigger warnings before their poems if they deemed it necessary.
While this was Felton’s first open mic of the year, it was not the only event she has hosted while at HC. Last year Felton hosted a feminist open mic as her final for a Women and Gender Studies class. She loved being able to share her appreciation of poetry and creativity with her fellow students and wants to continue creating safe spaces for students to perform.
“When I was in high school, I always told myself that I was going to start a poetry thing when I got to college because one of my mentors at slam camp told me that if you can’t be fed, be the bread,” Felton said. “Since there wasn’t anything like this on campus, I thought, ‘why not start it myself?’”
Moving forward, she plans on hosting these events consistently, especially since the events last year and last Friday were well-attended. In February, Felton plans on having an anti-Valentine’s Day open mic where people can perform heartbreak poetry. In late March, Felton has a plan to host another feminist open mic in honor of Women’s History month, and so on throughout the semester.
“These events are open to everybody. It’s not restricted to just poetry. You can perform. You can read out a short story you’ve written. You can play a song. This isn’t just for poets,” said Felton. “It’s for creative people who want to express themselves and show people their work.”