Mike Sonksen, a faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts, is a big supporter of open mic poetry. “I love open mics because they empowered me over two decades ago. I started participating in open mics as an undergraduate and it led to me getting published, becoming an educator and a seasoned public speaker.”
“I often use the open mic format in my classes,” he continued. “Because it’s student-centered and gives them a chance to speak without the traditional hierarchal structure that intimidates many.”
Appropriately known as ‘Mike the Poet,’ Sonksen spearheaded an inaugural poetry open mic event on campus on February 27, providing an opportunity for students from across the Woodbury community to offer up their verse in a public forum.
Titled “Verse Come, Verse Serve,” the open mic was hosted by two first-year students, Animation major Aspen Leavitt and Psychology major Laila Cooke-Campbell.
“I am incredibly excited about being part of a team that will ignite passion for spoken word/poetry at Woodbury,” said Aspen, who also hosted a poetry-themed show last semester on WU Radio. “I think a lot of people are afraid of reading something so personal in front of a crowd, but I hope that we can illuminate the collaborative effect that shared words can have.”
“We both love poetry and we were so excited about the idea that we took it and ran with it,” Laila added.
The open mic offered more than just an opportunity for students to drop a verse in front of their peers, however. Sonksen believes that activities like these can help to build some critically important skills as well.
“Poetry open mic events offer students and participants a unique opportunity outside of the classroom to express themselves and exercise critical thinking skills,” Sonksen said. “The lively spirit of open mics encourages skills like public speaking, writing and camaraderie among all involved.
The next open mic is on March 20 at 12:15 pm.