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UAS English Club Hosts First Open Mic-Night

The UAS English club has been dead in the water, an anonymous organization that has flown under the community radar. Two UAS English students are hoping to change that.

By: Laura Lemire

The UAS English club has been dead in the water, an anonymous organization that has flown under the community radar.  Two UAS English students are hoping to change that.

Lacie Richardson, a 21-year-old English major from Gunnison, Colo., and Kaleigh Lambert, an English major who moved to Alaska from Maine, both showed interest in bringing the English club back to life and decided to do something about it.  They spoke with Emily Wall, a professor at UAS, about getting the club off the ground and began recruiting interested members of the UAS community.

When Emily Wall and Nina Chordas agreed to serve as co-faculty advisors of the new club, the ball began to roll.  With the joint efforts of Richardson and Lambert, the English club took form under a new name, the Beatniks.

What is a Beatnik?  A Beatnik, by definition is an anti-conformist, a person who rejects the popular culture and walks a different path.  It is a minority youth subculture often characterized by ethnic and socio-economic background.  The term Beatnik also holds certain musical connotations.  Beatniks promote freedom of expression, providing an apt name for the new club.

 “I wanted to start this group because I saw that around town there were very few outlets for writers. I wanted there to be an event that students could look forward to where they could share their writing,” Lambert stated.  “I also wanted there to be a place where the students at UAS and the surrounding community could come together and share their art with each other.”

On Feb. 20, the Beatniks hosted their first UAS Open Mic-Night at the UAS Housing Lodge.  Roughly 30 students attended the event, 13 students took the floor and performed in front of their peers.  Food was provided for those who attended.

Talent ranged from piano playing, singing, oral (non-written) story telling, poetry, prose, guitar playing and interpretive dancing.

“I think it went amazingly. The atmosphere was awesome, and the audience was so attentive, they were really listening to the people who shared their work,” Richardson said.

Richardson suggested hosting open-mic nights on campus because UAS lacked any similar organized opportunities for students to share their creativity with their peers in a social setting.  The event is modeled after the activities of a club Richardson belonged to named Word Hoard.

“It can be nerve racking once you’re behind that microphone and the spotlights on you. The chance to get up in front of people pushes that comfort zone and then to further more share something that shows a little bit of truth as to who you are is an amazing experience,” Richardson said.  “I feel it adds to the process of growing as a writer or whatever the interest may be.  I really want to promote creativity in the students and faulty of UAS.”

The Beatnik’s open mic-nights provide student writers, artists, performers and musicians the chance to share their passion with fellow students and have some fun.

“It was fun. There was a great turnout and there was so many beautiful, so many talented people out here. The crowd was really appreciated, and everyone was really into it,” 19-year-old Ryan Cortes, a freshman from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico majoring in art said.

Cortes was one of the night’s student performers; he strummed the guitar as well as played a drum solo, which Richardson did an interpretive dance to.

Daniel Wooden, a 24-year-old from Thousand Oaks, Cali majoring in mathematics also performed at the event, singing songs that he wrote with acoustic guitar accompaniment.

“It’s kind of funny because I don’t really get nervous until I’m done performing.  I think I’m nervous talking to people afterwards, but I’m not nervous to perform in front of people because I kind of grew up doing stuff like that,” Wooden said.

Wooden sang two songs, one which was recently written and left untitled and another song that he wrote three years ago titled “Bless Your Heart.”

Students who attended the event were invited to provide suggestions for what they would like to see happen with the open-mic nights.  A student-run event needs student input.

“We got some great feedback.  I really appreciated people taking the time to write down there opinions for us.  It’s a great help to know what those attending want to see,” Lambert said. 

Richardson hopes for a better faculty turnout at future open-mic events and encourages faculty participation.


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