Students display talents at open mic night

“Overkill,” “The Allegheny Review” and Sigma Tau Delta collaborated to bring an open mic night to Grounds for Change on Thursday, Sept. 15. The event was advertised as an opportunity for students to read their writing, perform music and tell jokes while enjoying an open tab for the first $100 worth of drinks. 

Senior Editor of The Allegheny Review Hayley Simon, ’23, said they are trying to make the open mic a more regular thing and plan on rotating the responsibility of covering the open tab. 

“We had to coordinate with GFC first to decide what date we wanted to do it on,” Simon said. “Then we planned how much the open tab would be and I made some posters to advertise on our social media. I reached out to Overkill magazine and Sigma Tau Delta and they helped us advertise for tonight too.” 

According to Simon, the purpose of having an open mic night is to celebrate the fun side of writing and build community. 

In order for participants to take the mic and share their pieces, they wrote their name on a list and went in the order written. Simon said this model was a way to encourage members of the audience to be spontaneous and sign up to read after watching their peers share. People were able to write their name multiple times as long as everyone got a turn. 

Jackson Vanhoorelbeke, ’26, read a comedy piece about the origins of Chompers which was the first writing prompt he wrote for Overkill at their first meeting. 

“At first I was nervous because I had never done this before,” Vanhoorelbeke said. “But it was very open and welcoming so it made it not really that stressful of a deal.” 

While many participants, such as Vanhoorelbeke, are interested in pursuing careers in writing, people from all different fields of interest used the open mic to share their writing. Simon explained that there are a variety of different majors who participated in last year’s open mic, and she expected the same would be true again. 

Liz Herweg, ’26, who is interested in a career in biomedical science, expressed the importance of having creative outlets such as writing. 

“All of the best scientists and best mathematicians have some sort of artistic gift because your brain needs that in order to find solutions to complex problems,” Herweg said. “I was pleasantly surprised by the event because at my high school I didn’t really know anybody else who was really into writing as much as I was.” 

According to Herweg, sharing her stories was an opportunity for her to be honest through her writing with herself. Herweg said the stories she chose to share were of a darker nature but she considered them to be safe because she was proud of them.  

“In the first story, I felt like I was being honest that I can’t do everything on my own and that some struggles are too much,” Herweg said. “I felt like I was writing my character’s journey and whilst they were coming to their conclusion I felt myself coming to an acceptance of my own limitations.” 

Herweg said she chose to go to the open mic because it gave her the opportunity to have a lighthearted way to present her writing and also meet people who think deeply, are talented and are interested in similar things. 

Due to the receptive and relaxed nature of the audience, people were encouraged to share more personal pieces about several topics. 

Sasha Lu, ’25, shared three poems about their life over the past year. The topics included love, gender identity as a transgender person and relationships. 

“I am pretty open with people for the most part so it wasn’t too scary for me,” Lu said. “I’ve tried to be a person I would have wanted around when I was younger. I know that for someone out there listening it could mean the world to them to find something relatable.” 

After their reading, many people came up to Lu and expressed their appreciation for what they had to say in the poems they read. 

“I try to be inspiring for other people,” Lu said. “I have several friends I encouraged to come read too and some of them ended up following up and reading too. I think it’s good to share with other people because I get to learn from them too.”