UND Open Mic Night

Archives brings creativity to the Grand Forks community

Gabrielle Bossart, Editor

The English Department here at the University of North Dakota hosted another successful Open Mic Night on Thursday, April 13th. The in-person event began at 7pm and took place at Archives Coffee House on campus. The Open Mic Nights are a beloved new tradition in the English Department and are just what the name suggests: an open opportunity for writers and readers alike to take the mic and share with others. Many students on UND’s campus use the Open Mic Nights as an opportunity to read and share pieces they have been working on in their creative writing classes, but you do not have to be a student to participate. Open Mic Nights are free and open to anyone who is interested in performing. The Grand Forks community at large is always invited to share their work and the event is not limited to original pieces. Participants may choose to read their own work or do a reading of someone else’s, allowing them to share their favorite pieces with the audience. One participant at this event even performed some original songs, complete with the mellifluous sounds of their guitar. The event is known for bursting with creativity, and all those who choose to share are welcomed and celebrated.   

The Open Mic Nights began in the fall of 2019, right before the beginning of the pandemic, and have lived on to continue to inspire a love for reading and writing today. The event is organized by the English Department’s coordinator of creative writing, Dr. Patrick Henry. Dr. Henry listed the Open Mic Nights as one of his favorite campus events, stating, “they bring together creative writers, performers, and songwriters from across campus and the community.” This Open Mic Night was only the second in-person one since the start of the COVID pandemic in the spring of 2020. To keep the event alive during the chaos of the pandemic, Dr. Henry shifted to an online format, hosting the open mics on Zoom.   

Hosting the events over Zoom allowed Dr. Henry and his co-host Anna Kinney to keep championing writers and encouraging people to share their work in the midst of some difficult times. Of transitioning back to in-person events, Dr. Henry shared, “While I do miss the Zoom chat and the ongoing conversation (and buzz) it generated during our virtual open mics, I’m still glad that we’ve made the return to in-person open mics this semester.” While Zoom provided the wonderful opportunity for the audience to silently cheer on performers in the chat, and also to occasionally get a brief introduction to people’s pets, Dr. Henry acknowledged that the in-person performances have a different vibe, allowing everyone to mingle and connect at the conclusion of the event, and “share in the creative spirit of our community.”   

This spring Open Mic Night began punctually at exactly 7pm with an opening introduction from Dr. Henry, who thanked several groups including the College of Arts and Sciences on campus for their support of the creative writing program and Archives Coffee House for serving as the location for the event. The event saw a full house, with the audience consisting of both members of UND as well as members of the Grand Forks community at large. Several members of English faculty as well as undergraduate and graduate students of English filled the tables, right alongside those associated with literary groups on campus such as the Adelphi Literary Society and the Writing Club.   

A little more than a dozen participants performed over the course of an hour and a half. Performers shared a variety of work including poetry, snippets from short stories, excerpts from children’s books, and even original songs. The cozy atmosphere of the coffee house, with the sounds and aroma of coffee being made in the background, made Archives a well-suited venue for the beloved event.   

Things wrapped up around 8:30pm with some warm closing remarks from Dr. Henry, who mentioned some other exciting events in the English Department. Most notably were the Graduate Reading Series which took place on April 20th and the anticipated launch of the Floodwall Literary Magazine which will take place on May 4th. Updates on the happenings of the English Department as well as more information on English programs offered at UND can be found on their website: https://arts-sciences.und.edu/academics/english/.   


Gabrielle Bossart is a Dakota Student Section Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].