Recently, over 70 people gathered to attend The Arts at Center Street’s second annual open mic night. In our increasingly digital and visual age, there is something special about hearing live, original performances. When a person takes the time to compose their thoughts about a particular issue and express them in a way that is both meaningful and creative, it is truly a gift to those listening.
The evening began with Patrick James, who performed "Take Time to Talk to God.” He skillfully interwove spoken word and song into a powerful piece. Leafa Vagatai followed in a similar style with a piece inspired by her experience acting in “ALIEN: The Musical.” The song’s refrain was, "Come down, see all that you've been missing." It highlighted themes of economic disparity, utilizing the metaphor of a construction worker calling up to the man who stands atop the tower he built. Deborah Nava, a mother of two, presented a powerful and emotive response to the way that birth is euphemized by our culture through the imagery of the stork:
“You don’t know the sacrifice that every mother makes
We're taught to picture you flying away into pretty skies
Instead of seeing a woman with a striped belly and swollen thighs
No, just you swooping down to deliver a baby and some good news
You want all the credit, but you won't pay your dues, Mr. Stork."
Prior to the featured performers, there was a last minute addition of stand-up comedy performed by Josh Mohn who delighted the audience with his impressions and stories.
Saran “S Wrap” Thompson was the first featured poet. He shared from his experiences of teaching poetry to middle and high school youth, where he uses poetry as vehicle to teach self-expression, confidence and the many and varied powers of language. Saran’s poetry exemplifies the power of language he tries to pass on to his students — his poems were rhythmically complex, enjoyable to listen to and expressed some deep personal truths.
The evening ended with Benjamin Reese who focused on the work required to create meaningful connections with one another. In "I've Been Dreaming of a Table," Reese noted the busyness of life that often prevents people from maintaining relationships. This theme captured the purpose The Arts At Center Street has in hosting these types of nights. The Arts at Center Street strives to offer a neutral venue for people to share thought-provoking art that produces beneficial conversation. Whether first-time or seasoned performers, Open Mic Nights provide the opportunity for a diverse group of people to speak out of the convictions of their soul. Everyone who came to this night walked away with the gift of knowing the performers to a greater degree and contemplating the truths they presented with skill, creativity, and passion.