Arts, On Campus

Poetry Open Mic Night Returns to McMullen

The normally hushed McMullen Museum of Art lobby was filled with chatter on Oct. 7 for an open mic night hosted by Stylus and The Laughing Medusa, the two literary magazines at Boston College. Students trickled in through the tall glass doors before the event began, and the growing crowd enjoyed the array of desserts set out. 

Packed rows of black folding chairs were arranged on the glossy floor and a single microphone stood at the front, waiting for the poets to approach. Students found a spot on the stairs and leaned in against the railings to listen to their peers share their work. 

In front of the chairs, Patrick Conlan, editor-in-chief of Stylus and MCAS ’23, and Alexis Slotterback, editor-in-chief of The Laughing Medusa and Lynch ’22, welcomed the crowd and reminded students that both publications are currently open for submissions. 

To kick off the poetry readings, Slotterback read her two poems: “i kept my grandmother’s sewing kit” and “i found god.” Her performance was followed by a lineup of six students who had signed up to read their work before the event began. 

In early September, Slotterback had reached out to Rachel Chamberlain, the manager of educational outreach and digital resources at the McMullen Museum, to plan the evening. Slotterback asked if Stylus wanted to co-host the event and Conlan had eagerly agreed. Even with their last minute advertising, Slotterback said she was pleased that so many students attended. 

“We had too many people and too little chairs, and I think that’s always the best experience,” Slotterback said about the night’s success. 

After sharing his own poem, Conlan opened the floor up to volunteers. A steady stream of students raised their hands and walked to the front of the crowd. Students read their work from their phones and notebooks. 

Twelve more poets shared their pieces, and topics ranged from personal reflections on mental health and love to lighter topics. Max White, MCAS ’24, recited his sonnet contemplating death, while Patrick Berzins, MCAS ’22, read his humorous ode to the The Lord of the Rings soundtrack. Grace McPhee, MCAS ’23, read two poems that were recently published in Stylus’ spring 2021 edition: “lone star” and “dublin.”

Just when Conlan gave a last call and the night seemed like it was about to end, another student would raise their hand. Stepping over limbs in the packed aisles, more students got up to share their work. Many prefaced their piece by admitting they weren’t a poet or they were reading a first draft. But, after reading the last line they were met with enthusiastic applause and snaps from the crowd. 

Once the final student finished reading, Slotterback and Conlan thanked the students for coming and the crowd quickly streamed out the glass doors. The event marked a return to in-person readings after COVID-19 restrictions limited them last academic year. 

“I am so impressed with how it all came out, mostly because I’m a junior and I barely got any of these events as a freshman,” Conlan said. “So coming back, it’s just so much more than I would even expect.”

Teva Kenny, Lynch ’23, was one of the students who impulsively decided to read her poem about her experience of a frightening car accident. 

“I’ve actually only read poetry for my mom, so it was so cool to be able to share it and to have that space, and to just get to see how many people at BC care about that kind of stuff,” Kenny said. 

Featured Images by Leo Wang / Heights Staff

October 14, 2021
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