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Did You Know That There Was a Literature Open Mic in DownCaf?

DownCaf hosts the first Literature Evening of the term

Photo by Elie Pichanick

Last Wednesday night, DownCaf was the place to be. Despite the glooming clouds overhead, students arrived as soon as 6:15 pm to sign up for slots at the literature open night starting at 7. Open to anyone who wanted to share their writing, the event was organized by Sebastian Martinez with the help of co-SEPC representative, Blu Mehari, and other faculty. 

At the beginning of every term the first Bennington Literature Evening is a student open mic reading, but historically it has taken place in the Franklin common room. The change of location was inspired by Sebastian attending the launch party for the student literature magazine The Fool last September, which took place in DownCaf. The launch party was a series of readings by writers published in the new edition of the magazine. In DownCaf the readers climb up on a stage with a microphone and spotlight. DownCaf is bigger than Franklin’s common room, too. Sebastian mentioned seeing lots of people having to stand in the back in the Franklin common room during the last open mic. The space ended up being well optimized. As the night went on, DownCaf was so crowded some attendees had to stand for the reading. 

The sound was handled by Julian Conte and Sebastian did the stage lighting. The room was packed with students, readers and listeners. Before the reading began, speakers played Lana Del Rey’s newest album “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard” to pump everyone up. The music was in theme with the Lana posters that were hung all around campus from the time people first started arriving back from Field Work Term. 

 By 7pm the 12 slots on the sign-up sheet were filled and another overflow list had started under it. When Franny Choi took the stage first to introduce the event, the overflow list of additional people who wanted to read was at 8 people. 

Each reader had 5 minutes to read their prose or poetry. Franny hosted the night, ushering people on stage and getting them to wrap up when their 5 minutes were almost up. A sudden rainfall started in the middle of the reading and people continued flocking into the room, soaking wet. A few lightning flashes and thunder didn’t stop anyone and the reading went very well. 

Around 7:40pm all the original readers who signed up had read so the lucky first six people on the overflow list got to read as well. 

The pieces read ranged from heartfelt poetry to snippets from stories about the fearsome critters from lumber camps long ago. When asked about the event, Sebastian mentioned how proud he was of the many freshmen who decided to read. The last reader ended the event with a beautiful list of ways to cut your sandwich. I’ll definitely be keeping chainsaws in mind next time I don’t have a knife. 

As Franny hosted, Michael Dumanis sat in the front row. It is desired that literature faculty attend student-led literature events. Hopefully there will be more student-led literature open mic nights before the senior reading at the end of the term. 

Photos by Elie Pichanick

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