Open minds, open hearts, open mic
The “Manchac Review” is a literary journal that’s been a part of the university since 1960. In it, students have been able to submit their works of fiction, poetry and drama. In 2010, it even spread to encompass the “Manchac Review Online” where works of art, music and video shorts were included as well. The root of the review isn’t specified. However, some expect that it’s as a result of what a literary journal does for the university.
Kimberely Calhoun is an editor for the “Manchac Review,” and the editor in charge of their open mic event. Calhoun is also a spoken word poet. She shares poetry at different churches, community events and various places. She also has two self-published books. Calhoun is currently a grad student at the university where she hopes to obtain her Ph.D. and hopefully become an English professor.
“I’ve only been the editor of the ‘Manchac Review’ for a year, but I suspect what inspired its creation is that many universities across the country, if not world, have a literary publication for works of fiction and poetry,” said Calhoun. “If it’s a notable school, more than likely they have a literary journal. Ours is growing, but our English Department aims at being part of that literary community by joining in the conversation and representing Southeastern well.”
Calhoun also spoke about her hopes for the review.
“We showcase works by students, both grad and undergrad,” said Calhoun. “And it allows students an opportunity to have their works published and read by a great audience. I hope we can eventually accept submissions from anyone across the country like some other publications.”
As part of the “Manchac Review,” an open mic event was started. This event allows students to add more to the presentation of their particular art that might otherwise be lost in just a printed edition.
“The open mic is a by-product of the journal, if you will,” said Calhoun. “It is a live presentation of what we represent: writing, poetry, art, music, creativity and networking for our artistic community. Also, what’s read on the page or presented in a photograph is much different when it’s spoken, performed or explained.”
Manchac open mic opens up a new kind of experience for the students who attend and participate because it lets them see the department in a new kind of light.
“This is a place where students and faculty can share their work so we can experience it exactly, hopefully, as they intended,” said Calhoun. “Or just experience it in a different way. Also, the publication is a work by the English Department, so we wanted to create an energy for the Writing Center, which is where we host a lot of events.”
The upcoming open mic session will be held Feb. 13 from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. in D. Vickers Room 210. This particular open mic will have a theme, “Dear Love,” where participants will be able to create a letter, or any other form of art, that is dedicated to someone or something they love and share it with others. This is the first time an open mic has had a theme, and it was chosen because the editors and staff thought it would be a relevant topic.
“Since my time here, this is actually our first themed open mic,” said Calhoun. “And love is always a great theme, especially in our current political climate. We work in tandem with the Writing Center, and our director wanted us to do something for Valentine’s.”
It was also felt that it would be a personal one for the attendants.
“Our fiction editor, Samantha Reine, came up with the idea of writing a letter, based on an experience she had at a Jane Austen festival,” said Calhoun. “So, here we are. Everyone talks about love in so many ways, and it will be interesting to see how students and faculty compose their work around it. Plus, it’s Valentine’s Day, and we just figured we’d do something fun for couples, singles, for love. Perhaps people will even bring a date to it, who knows.”
The review and the open mic alike were made to encourage diversity and a place for people to come and share what they have created.
“This open mic allows our campus community to come together in an atmosphere of artistry,” said Calhoun. “We create conversations with our writing and art about the things that matter to us. It also allows students the opportunity to step out of their comfort zones and do something with their talent. I think God wants us to share our gifts with the world and it is our duty to figure out how to use it the right way.”
Calhoun urges those who might have second thoughts about participating to come out, and see what its about, and promises something will be gotten from it.
“Every open mic that a writer or creative person fails to participate in is one less opportunity to be greater and impact the world,” said Calhoun. “That’s how you start to get noticed if you actually want people to read your works. People often say writing is not a lucrative career. I wholeheartedly disagree. I believe it will pay off well if you work hard and have the right attitude about it. With God, all things are possible. I live that truth every day.”
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