Richmond Community College’s “Open Mic” event was such a hit last year, the school opened up Cole Auditorium to students, faculty and staff again this year in celebration of National Poetry Month.
“Open mic is an opportunity for expression through poetry or essays — whatever people want to share,” said Althea Hunsucker, English instructor and event coordinator.
RCC President Dale McInnis kicked off the event reading two poems, one written by Hunsucker and one he penned himself, entitled “First Day,” about the hopes, dreams and anxieties of new students.
Afterwards came streams of poems, essays and songs that included love, superheroes, sonnets inspired by the great Oscar Wilde, jail, Gandhi and insecurities.
Performers were teachers and students of all ages, some were bold performers and others more nervous. All wanted to be heard, and opened up to a crowd of strange faces.
“I’ve always written poetry,” said 16-year-old Niesha Williams, an Early College student who shared two poems. “Now I’ve started writing fan fiction.”
Williams explained that fan fiction is a growing genre of writing, in which fans of movies, TV shows or books write their own stories based on characters.
“I love to watch movies, but I don’t always like how they end,” she said. “Fanfiction.net inspired me to create my own endings. I’m too shy to post any of my writing there though.”
Matthew Vincett, 18, of Rockingham, also an Early College student, read a “piece of an idea for a book,” he’s been working on.
The gripping, detailed work was rich with imagery. Tales of a “maverick” inciting crowds to revolt against an oppressive government crescendoed with intensity before leaving the crowd wanting more, with the final words “the revolution had now begun.”
An avid reader, Vincett admits he writes often and aspires to becoming a published author.
“I’m going to major in creative writing or English,” he said. “I definitely want to write, and write as often as I can now. I had a brief internship with the Daily Journal once, and I’ve published fan fiction on wowhead.com.”
Vincett said that, despite the nervous tension at the reading, he is a bit of a “ham” and enjoys the attention.
“I like the chance for others to hear what I’m working on,” he said. “I want to write, so I appreciate the opportunity for feedback. It’s also encouraging when people tell me I should keep doing this.”
Works from other performers included: Tim Harris; David Townsend; Joshua Fuller; Pauline Williams; Craig Cavanaugh; Ervin Leviner; Tony Fairley; Jerome McLeod; Ishmael Terry; Selene Elliott; Matthew McLendon; DJuana Quick; Angela Harrington; Samantha Buck; Tuquan Wall; Michael Fairley; and Johnnie Morrison.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org