By Paul Ingvaldsen
Staff Writer

The Young Poet Society made chalk drawings on the sidewalk pointing toward the site of the last open mic event of the semester, Friday, May 9, in Building P.
Joe Gutierrez, 20, a pre-nursing major, sat in a corner studying his poems after registering. “I’ve been writing since I was in high school,” Gutierrez said.
“The English Department awarded me the Donald Drury award for poetry. I might do one tonight.”
The audience enjoyed a spacious yet cozy setting with a fireplace behind the wooden stage. Around the room calligraphy samples and volumes in bookshelves rested along the walls. A podium stood under a spotlight.
Natalie Burgess, an English teacher and creative writing committee chair, said, “This is the Mariam Sims Baughn Center for Literary Arts. Notice all the construction around campus? This building they will not touch because it has historical value.
“The English Department wanted to open up the center so that students could share their works in art, fiction, poetry and music, so we sponsor open mic through the creative writing committee.”
The lights dimmed and musicians Adriana Foss, 21, a biology major, and music major Jay Hemphill, 20, performed an original piece called the Song of the Sea. Gutierrez read two poems.
Before taking the stage, Barry Saks, 68, a journalism major, said, “This is the first time I’ve done this, but journalism is useful for poetry writing because of its concreteness.”
Sergei Smirnoff hosted the event, introduced each act and called for finger-snapping applause.
As open mic drew to a close, Smirnoff reminded the audience of the approaching Mother’s Day.
“I’m from Russia,” Smirnoff said. “My mother neglected my older brother and he died. This is a crime in Russia and she was imprisoned for murder.
“If you’re lucky enough to have a mother you can be with, don’t forget her this Sunday.”