Open Mic Poetry Reading Hour Celebrates 35 Years of Sharing Ideas
By Julia Ngoie
Tuesday Voices is a public forum for aspiring poets and enthusiasts to share their love for the craft in a supportive and welcoming environment.
The new year marks the 35th anniversary of the long-standing tradition sponsored by Seminole State College’s English Department and Gwendolyn Brooks Writers’ Association of Florida Inc.
Tuesday Voices began with Dr. Stephen Caldwell Wright, a former English professor, and a famous Chicago poet, Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks. Brooks suggested that it would be wonderful if the college had writing competitions and an open mic for students, and so, at that suggestion, Wright began the program.
Webb Harris, English professor and host of the event, said Tuesday Voices has since preserved its original intent.
“[T]hat’s why we don’t have spotlights, or we’re not up on a stage,” he said. “We don’t invite famous poets to come read. It’s just people from the school.”
Harris has been teaching at the college for more than 20 years and has been hosting Tuesday Voices since his arrival. He’s estimated that, on average, 10 to 40 students attend each gathering.
“[P]eople are sharing out of a genuine spirit to share and not because they get to be in front of a hundred people,” he explained.
Of those who shared at the last gathering, Janina Bagherzadeh, creative writing student at the college, said she’s been writing poems since she was in middle school.
“The last time I counted– it definitely has to be more than 2,000 poems,” she insisted.
Bagherzadeh was the first student to read.
She, like many others, draws inspiration from her own life experiences. Writing has given her an outlet and way to make meaningful connections.
“[W]hen I leave this earth, there is gonna be something there.”
The next Tuesday Voices open mic poetry hour will be at 7 p.m., Feb. 26. Sign-in for participants is at 6:50 p.m. The event is held in Building C, Room 110A on the Sanford/Lake Mary campus.
There will be two other Tuesday Voices this semester on March 26 and April 23.