Open Mic event fills Commons with music, spoken word

Asha Campbell

It’s not every day that a New York Times best-selling writer and poet performs with college students. But Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz did just this on Wednesday at MUSE’s Open Mic Night in Commons Living Room.

“Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s energy and passion fits perfectly into the spring term agenda at Washington and Lee,” president of MUSE Anne Persons, ’15, said.

Anyone was able to perform any type of piece during the open mic portion of the event, such as spoken word, slam poetry or comedic pieces.

Attendees enjoyed Blue Sky baked goods throughout the event, which was modeled after the one held in the fall at Sweet Treats.

“I enjoyed the relaxed vibe of the event and how students would casually walk up to the microphone and read whatever they wanted to read,” Macy Foster, ’17, said.

MUSE is run by students and publishes only W&L student works. It is a digital and print publication that is printed once a year. It aims to showcase the artistic works of students from all areas of study. The club also publishes a small “zine” in the fall each year.

As the students left, many buzzed about the Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s performance.

“I was extremely impressed by the performance of Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz,” Elena Diller, ’17, said. “Her poems, especially those regarding unrequited love and parental gender roles, put thoughts I had never voiced into both meaningful and beautiful words.”

O’Keefe Aptowicz attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She received the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature in 2011 and was awarded the 2013 Amy Clampitt Residency. She is the first poet from a slam poetry background to receive this residency. She has also published six books of poetry and appeared in the 2006 documentary, Slam Planet.

“O’Keefe Aptowicz is a powerful writer and an absolute hoot when she performs,” incoming president of Muse Shaun Soman, ‘17, said. “I couldn’t tell if my eyes were watering because I was so moved or because I couldn’t stop laughing.”

O’Keefe Aptowicz held a workshop prior to the Open Mic Night.

“Attending the workshop prior to the event made me really appreciate how hard it is to be a writer in the world we live in, but how much I wanted to do it,” Chauncey Baker, ’15, said.

MUSE plans to hold more events like this one in the future.

“I think the event was a lovely success and I am eager to have similar performances in the near future,” Soman said. “I’m always enthusiastic when students have an opportunity to perform their work for the public so I would encourage budding superstars to attend any future events.”