For the Love of Poetry: Speak for Yourself Open Mic

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Enliten Bakery & Cafe hosts a creative writing open mic every Thursday at 7:30 p.m., which Marianne Hales Harding, a co-founder of Speak for Yourself Open Mic, founded as a venue for creative writers to share their pieces in Utah County four and a half years ago.

“We wanted to have this venue for people to be able to feel free to just share their works, share work that has inspired them, just kind of create this community which [has] been wonderful,” Harding believes writing shouldn’t be done alone; writers need a community to support each other.   

Around 7:30 p.m., Harding went around to every table in the restaurant asking people to sign-up for the performance. After 15 minutes, the open mic began; some people performed their own poems, and some people performed the writing that had inspired them.

“It is a great environment, it is a great place to express yourself, ” said Audrey Kunz, a frequent visitor.  Kunz’s favorite way to process and cope with whatever she is dealing with is through writing and sharing poetry.  

There are many reasons why college students should attend a poetry open mic. Brock Jones, Professor of English and Literature at UVU, highly encourages students to go to open mic or reading events. He wants students not only to experience poetry by reading in books, but also by listening to it spoken out loud. “It is a different kind of engagement with the language of the poem. Also, it reminds us that poetry has a history of being an oral art.”

Colin Douglas, author of three published works of poetry: “First Light, Fist Water”, “Glyphs” and “Division By Zero.

He also said that performing at an open mic is a step out of most people’s comfort zone. “It is scary every time, but it gets easier and easier over time. The only way to get least scared is just to keep trying,” Jones said.

Kunz said that she was nervous her first time performing at an open mic. “I remember just shaking the entire time and I was holding a paper, so everyone watching can see the paper is shaking,” she said. However, Kunz affirms that it gets easier every time that she performs, particularly the piece that she performed before. She said that she still gets nervous with new material.  

If you want to get a taste of poetry, but are afraid of reading your writing, there is a “poemball” machine in the corner of the Enliten Bakery & Cafe. It looks like a candy machine but instead of getting candy, you can get a poem for only 25 cents. The “poemball” machine includes poems from many local poets, and they are always looking for poem submissions.

“People just love it, it’s been the most popular project that we have done, we have a continuous submission for [the “poemball” machine] because it is a ‘monster’ that eats poems,” Harding said.