The Nomad puts on open-mic night at Hillside Grind

Andrew Berenfeld, Dillon Jeffrey, Tyler Jones and Medelone Forwerck create poetry on the fly. Photo credit to Paul Worley.

Freeform-spoken-word-jazz renditions of early-2000s pop songs (Stacy’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne, to be specific). Cut-up prose from multiple authors being read as one piece. A delightful poem about a blow-up doll entitled “Plastic Lover” and even a half-spoken, half-sung father-daughter rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” served to bring a very lighthearted and open feeling to the inaugural open-mic night of the semester.

Hillside Grind hosted the event on Feb. 16. It was facilitated by the Western Carolina literary magazine, The Nomad.

The event was an opportunity for Western Carolina students, faculty and anyone else who fancied a public venue to showcase their creativity and artistic talents.

And what a showcase it was. Several people presented their own original poetry, but the more off-kilter demonstrations were the ones that exemplified the atmosphere of the evening.

Makayla Smith, a staff member of The Nomad, who was in attendance at the event believed that the breadth of content of display was important.

“I think it was interesting to see the different variety of performances we had come up there, because we had something as benign as simple readings of published poems to interesting things about fast food products,” she said.

Paul Worley, the father in the aforementioned father-daughter act and a professor of English at Western Carolina University was the first performer of the evening. Afterwards, he spoke of the importance of having these sorts of gatherings for students to express themselves.

“I think it’s really important for students to have spaces where they can show their creativity. Students never fail to impress me but I think that if they’re submitting documents only to me for evaluation, it moves away from the ideal of education itself. Moving from this teacher-student relationship to these informal settings gives students a deeper understanding of citizenship [and community] that sometimes gets lost in the traditional classroom setting,” he said.

The Nomad intends to hold open mic nights monthly at Hillside Grind for the remainder of the semester. The next one will take place on March 16.