Students find creative platform at UCCS Creative Writing Program Open Mic event 

     On April 14 the UCCS Creative Writing Program hosted a two-hour Open Mic event that garnered a turnout of around 30 students, with staff and faculty in attendance as well. 

     English instructor Marty Salgado organized the event alongside fellow instructor and creative writing coordinator Heather Fester, who teaches creative writing and composition courses. 

     Salgado, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, hosted the event to revive some creativity within the writing community here at UCCS.  

      “One of the greatest things about writing is being able to use your voice and lend your words to other people who have not, perhaps, found theirs,” he said. 

     In an effort to stretch out the time for as long as possible, Salgado limited each reader to four minutes. This allowed students and staff who were straying in from the hallways and other classrooms the opportunity to share their creative writing too, despite not registering for the event ahead of time. 

     The first person to step up to the mic was Journee Dortch, who read a poem that will be published in the upcoming issue of the riverrun Student Literary and Arts Journal called “Mustard Seed.” Stephanie Few, following Dortch’s lead, read their poem “Cancer,” which will also be published in riverrun. 

Journee Dortch reads a poem during the open mic night on April 14. Photo by Lillian Davis. 

     Drew Johnson, an editor for riverrun, explained that the journal will be available soon, and that those who submitted should keep an eye out for more information about the journal release party in their inboxes. 

     Following Few, Abigail Tenney read their poems “Proxy,” “Plate Smashing Therapy” and “So I Dig,” which navigate their experience with religion and their former attempts at seeking education in a religious institution. 

     In addition to poetry, other readers shared some works of creative nonfiction. Ella Barry, a student in one of Salgado’s creative writing courses, shared a work of nonfiction called “Little Minnesota Girl” that recounts her years as a child growing up in the Midwest during the 2008 recession. 

     Following Barry, Ann Amicucci, a professor who teaches first-year rhetoric and writing courses, read a nonfiction essay that she is still workshopping that reflects on her first year at university, where the stress of being independent came to the forefront of her life in a very prevalent and obtrusive way. 

     Khlya Alexander, another student of Salgado’s, also shared a work of nonfiction recounting her experience falling in love with her current partner, exploring the beauty in the simple and seemingly mundane elements of their relationship that pushed her to finally say “I love you.” 

     Following the first 10 or so readers, Salgado called for a 10-minute break in which attendees were invited to eat pizza and talk about the pieces that were read. 

     After the break, Salgado read a nonfiction essay titled “First Girlfriend,” in which he unpacks his first love from seventh grade with witty, endearing charm. “Laughter is encouraged,” he said before reading, and he even ended the evening with a part two to his essay in which he recounts a time he nervously danced with his crush in eighth grade. 

     Aja Zamundu, another riverrun editor, stepped up to read her creative essay “A Discourse on the Physiological Nature of Decomposition,” which explores the human condition in a visceral, visually haunting way through the perspective of a Mr. Zombie. 

     Zamundu, in addition to being a psychology student, is also a part of a musical group called the Reminders who tour nationally and internationally.  

     Following Zamundu, DeLyn Martineau, an English professor, stepped up to read a nonfiction essay called “What’s in a Name? Everything,” which reflects on the journey she went through to become confident with the name she was given at birth. 

     Students interested in attending future events from the Creative Writing Program can visit the English department website. An upcoming English Career Conversation will be held on April 21 via Zoom by David Diamond, a professor of English. Panelists will include Bailey Ashida, Kayla Shock, Sophia Elisha and Rachel Cullen.