This past month I was able to attend a poetry open mic event at DC’s Busboys and Poets. The event featured spoken word poetry from several local poets including any audience members who wished to participate. The reading was hosted by Alexa Patrick- an AU alumnus herself- who shared some of her own works and introduced Ryan Sheppard, also an AU alumnus, as the featured poet. This was the first open mic night that I have ever attended and I was incredibly grateful for the inclusive and welcoming environment that Alexa generated. I shared some of my own poetry and left feeling both validated and well-received. I’ve never spoken at an event before and although the experience was nervewracking, I felt well supported by both the crowd and Alexa. Nearly every audience member shared their writing and Alexa had a generous compliment after each of the poems. The environment of the event certainly contributed to the experience. The ticket was only five dollars and I found this to be more than worth the unbelievable poems. The best part about the open mic night, in my opinion, was the talent within the audience members. Their poetry opened my eyes to new perspectives and their talent amazed me. It reminded me that each individual is capable of creating art, no matter how “mundane” or “normal” they seem. I would highly recommend Busboys and Poets- specifically events hosted by Alexa- for anyone looking for an open mic night.
Additionally, Ryan and Alexa both advocated for American’s slam poetry group; Speak Fresh. Both of the alumni were involved in the group, Ryan as a student and Alexa as a coach, and both talked very highly of the team and encouraged all AU students interested in poetry to join. The club hosts showcases, open mic nights, workshops and is the place to be for any budding, or experienced, poets. Ryan and Alexa both credited Speak Fresh for encouraging their poetry and building their poetic skills. This event truly showcased how inclusive the American community is and how successful our alumni are. It reminded me of why I originally wanted to attend American; for the opportunities that Ryan and Alexa both took advantage of. I certainly was not expecting to get this reassertion when attending the event, but it came as a pleasant surprise. I plan on attending more events at Busboys and Poets as well as attending some of Speak Fresh’s events on campus.