The days are getting shorter. The nights are getting colder, and yet KPOET’s Open Mic Night is hot, hot, hot! This past Friday, on Sept. 23, Whittier College students came together for a night celebrating poetry, music, and most of all – community.
The evening started out on a bit of a sour note. The event had to be moved from their original destination of Club 88 to Villabos, due to the COVID-19 testing happening in the Club. Then, minutes before the affair was about to start, the main microphone had a technical malfunction. But no fear, KPOET is here! The managers quickly worked together, and found a microphone that could perfectly capture the voices of our performers. Even with the change in location, the radio managers made the venue a place where art could flourish, including a new neon purple KPOET light. How stylish! The master of ceremonies was the energetic Kirstin DeMarquez. Alongside her controlling the tunes was an array of managers at KPOET. And now with the lights on, the music loud, the night is about to begin…
The first act of the night was rootin’-tootin’ fourth-year Tanya Garcia. They came out in full cowboy attire, with a pink jump rope/lasso on their hip, ready to take on any pre-performance anxiety. But Garcia had an easy night as they performed their phenomenal poem “Letter Home”. They delivered a soulful, beautiful story about love, and what it means to be in it. They ended the piece by talking about how they are their partner’s special cowboy, wrapping up this stunning love story. Yeehaw Tanya!
Next up was fourth-year Sarah Silva. A last second-entry to the event, but a show-stopper nonetheless. Coming in front of the podium, laptop in hand, she performed a poetry piece entitled “Acute Appendicitis”. The piece talks about a family member’s recent struggle with the disease, and what that meant for them. A beautifully crafted tale on something terrible, and only Silva could do that!
Poetry was the main performance for the night, and Rhe Nae Leach was no exception! Speaking a piece entitled “My Blue”, Leach talks about the connection of her relationships with colors. Leach recounts a story with an ex-partner of hers, and how she feels that certain relationships in her life have certain colors connected to them. With this, when she asks someone what color they believe their relationship together is and it matches, the two have a strong bond – which is exactly the inspiration for this piece! A poem all about love and how it does not have to look the same for every single person. Beautiful work!
The poetry did not stop coming on that night! Next up was fourth-year Maddy Wiebal who before performing, discussed her nervousness with the audience. But there was no need to fret, because her first piece “Building Me”, was a knock out of the park! The poem discusses self-identity and your namesake; and how the two are intrinsically connected. Going in the theme of deeper poems, her next piece “The Tire Swing” speaks about childhood memories long forgotten, and how our lives don’t feel quite the same anymore. And finally, her last piece titled “Fragments” wrapped up her amazing poetry skills. Before this last piece, Wiebal talks about how this one is more experimental than the others, and that it is “just here for the vibes.” The audience did more than vibe, they cheered at her luscious descriptions of the body and how it is more like an ecosystem. See Maddy, there was nothing to be nervous about!
Now to shake things up, first year and last minute entry Cielo Valenzuela gave a double performance for the evening. Depicting that she is a jack of all trades by doing both a reading of her poetry piece “If Medusa Was Central American”, and singing a karaoke version of “She Used to Be Mine” from the Broadway show, Waitress. Her poetry piece was incredible, talking about her own racial identity, and how that is interconnected with the double standards of beauty she has to face. Her speaking voice was incredible, and her singing voice was amazing! Valenzuela sang as if she just walked off of Broadway, hitting every high note with perfection. Amazing job Cielo!
Going back to poetry, fourth-year Open Mic Night regular and Quaker Campus’s own, Dayquan Moeller, came back with two incredible unnamed pieces performed. Moeller starts by unraveling a piece of paper, trying to straighten it out. He starts naming off pieces of information about himself, eventually revealing to the audience that this is the info in regard to his Monkeypox vaccine. They then illustrate parallel stories about getting the vaccine, and telling a secret to a close family member. Moeller is an incredible storyteller, and his performance is off the charts. And their second piece continues this greatness! Before starting this piece, Moeller undoes his belt, unzips his pants, and shoves the first poem into his underwear. Then they take off their left shoe, and reveal that the second piece of paper with this poem is inside! Moeller says that this piece is ‘wet’, and to give him a second. They then speak a stunning poem about love and what that means to him. His performances wowed the crowd, and we hope for more in the future!
Dayquan may have been the end of the poetry for the night, but not the end of the performances! Next up was the singing styles of freshman Jeremiah Stephens, with his karaoke rendition of “All of Me” originally by John Legend. Stephens sang a beautiful cover fit for Madison Square Garden. There was a moment where both Stephens and the audience were confused over the background singers in the karaoke, but nothing can stop this intrepid singer! He carried on with the same strength as before. To quote MC DeMarquez, that performance was “John Legend-ary”.
And the final performance of the evening was the musical stylings of second-year Kaitlyn Taft. She tickled the ivories and performed two songs, “Maple Leaf Rag” originally by Scott Joplin and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. She delighted the audience by whizzing across the keys, playing such jubilant and iconic tunes! It felt like a true concert inside Villalobos! Great job Kaitlyn!
Sadly, the night had to come to a close; but the memories will last a lifetime! All individuals on both sides of the event had a great time. Two managers of KPOET, Leah Gibson and Hailey Garcia shared their enthusiasm for Open Mic Night to be back. They said that even with the unexpected hiccups at the beginning, the event went “better than expected”, and they are ready for the next Open Mic Night. Even though Villalobos may be a multi-purpose room, that Friday night had a single purpose – to bring the Whittier College community closer together. Take a bow, everyone!
Featured Image: Kirsten DeMarquez / KPOET