The Greenleaf hosts open-mic night


"Open Mic" by Ian Muttoo is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A microphone set up and ready for an open mic performance.

On March 10, 2021, The Greenleaf Review, most notably known as Guilford College’s student-produced literary magazine, hosted an open-mic night for all students of the College to partake in. The event took place virtually via Zoom and attracted about ten participants.

Though small in size, the open-mic uplifted both the heart and spirit. Each participant shared songs and poems that were meaningful to them, and the overall atmosphere was supportive. Open-mics are an opportunity for shared creativity, and are communal. Though it may not be easy for one to share his or her personal experiences or emotions with strangers via song or poem, The Greenleaf provided a safe space through this initiative for students to do so. Even within a pandemic that has quenched the opportunity for these expressive events to take place in-person, the open-mic night was an outlet for many student creators to engage once again.

Ainsley Kalb, an editor for The Greenleaf who helped organize the event and performed an original song, commented on the meanings of her creation.

“I performed a song of mine that I wrote during my recent isolation period,” she stated. “I haven’t picked a good name for it yet. It’s a tribute to the power of friendship, and a love letter to the people who helped me survive 23 days in either quarantine or isolation. It felt timely, especially because some of those people were in attendance.”

Harper Reese, another organizer for the event, was quite impressed with Kalb’s performance. They too performed a few shorter poems. 

“I wanted to hear mostly from everyone else,” they stated.

The event had historically attracted a larger audience when it took place in-person, and may have drawn in a larger crowd had it been the same traditional format. However, Kalb was strongly opposed to the idea of an in-person outing due to potential health risks.

“I felt strongly that the event should be virtual,” she commented. “I would have preferred performing in-person if we weren’t in a pandemic, but under the circumstances, I think virtual was the best choice. It allowed people to perform without masks, which is especially helpful for singing, and it avoided any possible spread of COVID.”

Reese agreed with Kalb. 

“Obviously, hosting the event via Zoom isn’t ideal, but I’m glad people still got to get together and share their art,” they remarked. “I have fond memories of previous Greenleaf open-mics, especially last year when we had an absolutely packed open-mic at Rachel’s Rose Cottage.”

A handful of students were able to share their creative works and support one another at an important time to embrace small, communal gatherings. Coronavirus has disconnected folks in more ways than one. 

According to Mental Health America, a national non-profit organization dedicated to mental health, talking to others can make people feel more connected. 

Just talking with someone about what’s happening can validate for you that yes, this (the pandemic) is real life, and yes, this feels completely surreal,” the website states.

An open-mic is a crucial setting, allowing students to express their feelings about the pandemic and embrace one another in hardship. Like Kalb, music is an expressive outlet for many individuals. Participants found the open mic to be both powerful and relieving. 

Looking forward, it is the hope of many that the pandemic will be a bit more controlled, and The Greenleaf will be able to host an in-person event next fall. If interested in attending future events, check the Guilford Buzz for more information.