Once a month, Northern Kentucky University students have poetry nights at The Bow Tie Cafe. The events generally bring 40 people to almost fill the Cincinnati cafe to capacity with students and professors.
“The environment is nerve wrecking, but in a good way,” Rex Trogdon, senior English literature major said.
Generally at the events, about 15-20 students and professors read poetry or short fiction. However, according to students and professors, there are always a few unexpected turns.
“Every time, it surprises me what random people show up to read poetry. They’ll hear about it through the grapevine or Facebook,” Trogdon said. “I can never really tell you what’s going to happen.”
Senior English major Matthew Daniel Birkenhauer said that he read a prologue to a novel that he is working on at Bow Tie. He went at the end of October when people were wearing Halloween costumes.
“There was one poet there who read his own poetry and, on a whim, ended up doing a speech,” Birkenhauer said. “He just he came up after he finished reading his poetry he did this entire speech from memory. It was impressive and totally unexpected and a lot of fun.”
Kelly Moffet, creative writing professor at NKU, is the faculty advisor for the open mic nights. She said that the events were started by students to achieve a greater sense of community.
Trogdon and a few other students from Loch Norse Magazine are the ones who started having the event. After a few low energy on-campus events, they decided to try something new.
“We took it upon ourselves this year and last to be the community organizer. So that’s why we started these open mic events,” Trogdon said. “We shifted our focus from the past where the magazine was an end of the year thing to show off our work.”
Trogdon said that he had a bigger goal of just getting people involved. Their main audience is NKU undergraduates but that they’ve seen graduate students in the writing program and many of the professors show up and read.
“I was a featured reader in April of last year and I read from one of the books that’s going to be published coming up,” Moffett said.
Creative writing major Michael Brookbank Jr. has never read at the Bow Tie Café but he has gone to listen to friends. He said he planned on writing but didn’t.
“I recommend it to other NKU students because it is a great way of getting to know other students who are interested in getting to know each other and getting to experience writing,” Brookbank said.
Trogdon said he feels that sometimes NKU students think they are not talented because the university isn’t as big or well known as other schools in the area.
“[But] When we get ourselves into one place and create some sort of community, it improves. Maybe we are scattered but there is a ton of talent, drive and energy from NKU students,” Trogdon said. “When we make the effort to get in the same place and do what we love, study the things we love, it makes me proud to be an NKU student.”
The next writing event will be Nov. 30 at Bow Tie Café in Mount Adams.