Summer writing programs sponsor Youth Open Mic Night

Students from last year's Between the Lines camp pose in front of Shambaugh House -- photo provided by the International Writing Program
Students from last year’s Between the Lines camp pose in front of Shambaugh House — photo provided by the International Writing Program

Youth Open Mic Night

High Ground Café — Wednesday, June 24 at 7 p.m.

High Grounds Café will play host to an open mic night tonight featuring writers ages 16 to 19 from around the world. The event will be the first of its kind — a collaborative effort from Between the Lines, Iowa Youth Writing Project and the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio.

Youth Open Mic is the brainchild of Lisa Daily, a Between the Lines (BTL) coordinator and Stephen Lovely, director of the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, who were joined by Lisa Roberts, the interim director of the Iowa Youth Writing Program (IYWP).

“The idea for an open mic night is to make sure there is a really safe, inviting, social space where kids feel they can share their work with other kids,” Daily said.

BTL is a program hosted by the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa each summer. Each year, two two-week writing workshop sessions take place; the program is currently holding the first session of Russian and Arabic student writers.

Usually at the end of each writing session, the programs puts together an organized reading for the students, but the formal setting tends to make the students nervous and feel uncomfortable interacting with one another. Daily wanted to give the students a more fun way to get to know other writers and share their stories.

Daily says there are no rules for open mic. The young writers will be reading short excerpts of their own work and international students are encouraged to read in their native language. Students from each of the three participating programs will take turns reading and will be able to sign up in the order they prefer.

“We want people to start taking teenagers seriously and their work seriously. They have qualified voices,” said Daily, describing what she wants people to take away from this event and the program. “Their voice is not always recognized and we want to provide them with encouragement.”

In a few weeks, Iowa City’s youth writing programs will hold a second open mic night for visiting Turkish and Armenian writers. All events will be free and open to the public.

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