PoeDown: a review by Barbara Davis

Each year the Chestatee Review hosts several Open Mic Nights on the different campuses of the University of North Georgia. The Open Mic that takes place during the month of October focuses on the spooky holiday celebrated at the end of the month, Halloween. This year, on the Gainesville campus the event was held on October 27, a Thursday evening. After working hard publicizing the festivities in advance, members of the Chestatee Review were excited to be serving food and having a costume contest as part of the spooky fun.

The event was held in the Nesbitt Building, in one of the ballrooms. Professor Black and some of the students decorated, dimmed the lights, and provided some background music suitable for the ominous occasion. Students began arriving a few minutes before the appointed time of 6:00 pm. Some faculty were in attendance, anxious to hear students work presented in such a comfortable, laid-back setting. Soon, the evening officially commenced, appropriately with a reading of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. The audience became involved as they determined the winner of the costume contest by loudest applause, as Professor Black presented each costumed attendee. There were not many dressed in costume at the beginning of the evening, however people wandered in and out throughout the night, many disappointed they had missed the costume contest.  There was a different nother function going on in another building on campus. Many students were torn because they wanted to attend both activities, so they floated back and forth between the two. Next year we plan to make sure the two events are planned for different nights to enable students the chance to attend and enjoy both events.

Members of the Chestatee Review had also promoted and encouraged participation in a Flash Fiction and poetry writing contest with a Halloween theme. The winning writers were announced at the PoeDown. The prizes for first, second, and third place were given to the winners, and each was given the opportunity to read their prize winning entry. Although the attendance was not as high as expected, the evening was a huge success, with many students given the forum to share their writing, singing, and musical talents. Some students only become introduced to the Open Mic Nights because they have been offered extra credit from a professor just for attending and being exposed to the concept. All students swipe their student identification card and receive co-curricular credit for attending the event. This information can be used by to verify a student was present for the event. Other professors require participating at the mic in front of the crowd in order to qualify for any extra credit. There is a sign-up sheet for those brave enough to approach the microphone and hear their own voice reverberate through the room as they entertain their peers. Professor Black will be happy to confirm to fellow professors that one of their students has indeed been an active participant at one of the Open Mics.  Although creative writing classes are offered on the Gainesville campus, many students who enjoy writing do not need these classes for their major.  The Open Mic nights provide an opportunity for all students to share their talents when it comes to expressing themselves through writing, poetry, singing, music, and even dancing.