by Rogelio Alvarez
Open Mic Poetry Night, hosted by the English Club, provided students and guest speakers the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings through poetry and short stories.
Despite the cold weather, there was a huge student outcome at the event. English Club members were surprised at the turnout of students.
At least 40 students and a few faculty members were present at ELAC Gardens, eager to listen to the two guest speakers, author Carolina Rivera and ELAC Alum Matthew Mejia.
“There was a lot of talent and a lot of heart, definitely. The messages spoke true to the audience and that’s the ELAC students. A lot of our frustrations, our dreams, our life experiences, they all kind of interconnect,” ELAC student Anthony Lopez, said.
The event began with the English Club President Johnnie Mora arriving with free coffee and pan dulce.
The combination of coffee and pan dulce was satisfying on a chilly night last Friday.
The audience patiently waited while English Club members promoted free snacks and free used, old-editions college textbooks.
Some of the students in the audience received extra credit for attending.
“Even if it was for the extra credit, they’re going to go home with the sense of art, sense of artistic feeling,” Lopez said.
Former ELAC Alum Matthew Mejia paid tribute to his parents with a heart-warming poem titled “Let the Rain Sing You to Sleep.”
His parents were in the audience and smiled at the sound of their son’s inspiring words.
“My parents came and they don’t come often so I wanted to read the one I wrote to them,” Mejia said.
After a quick introduction from the club president, the first guest speaker Carolina Rivera was introduced and shared her background about the difficulties of growing up in civil war-torn El Salvador during the 1980’s.
She read a short story from her book “…after…”
Some of the student speakers voiced their thoughts on the difficulties of relationships and dealing with heartaches.
Students saw the event as a platform to voice their frustrations with politics and disillusionment with society.
ELAC student Joseph Roman had one of the best readings of the night with a long poem titled “Ode to Westlake MacArthur Park,” about an experience with a homeless man from MacArthur Park.
“I feel like it really resonated a lot, especially with what’s going on with our society in terms of the criminalization of homelessness and the ignorance that revolves around all of those topics,” ELAC student and one of the speakers at the event, Raul Meza Munoz said.
“It was really powerful in my opinion,” Munoz said.
One student responded to presidential nominee Donald Trump’s remarks about undocumented Mexican immigrants with a piece that criticized his allegations.
All attendees were given the opportunity to sign up and share any poetry or short stories.
According to club president Mora, Open Mic Poetry Night came about through club meetings.
“After tonight’s outcome, there was a lot of people, so I was very happy about that. I definitely want to have another one,” Mora said.
“Make it a regular thing, hopefully in the beginning of spring semester. Maybe a smaller one in the winter session.”
After hosting a successful turnout, Mora and the English club hope to attract “any author, hopefully other people who’ve been published in Milestone, our school’s literary magazine and hopefully next time we have professors who will be willing to come up (and) either read some of their writing or recite another famous Shakespeare poem.”