By Nate Rudman
Photo by Brandon Yung
Tunnel’s third open mic event, Harvesting, was a night filled with poetry and stories. The atmosphere was charismatic, comfortable, and communal, as teens from South Pasadena and the LA County area participated in the event, which took place in the backyard of sophomore Oona Foley.
The theme of the night was thankfulness and gratitude, and celebrated autumn and the act of harvesting the crops grown from our labor. While some readers stuck to that theme, others branched out to themes of family, loss, and failure. Presenters took a large amount of artistic creativity with their time on the mic, some telling stories of nightmares past and another reading from her research paper regarding her Native American ancestry and culture.
“It makes me feel very comfortable to be around people who are so into art and [value] creativity,” junior attendee Paolo Gaeto said. “I have so many weird thoughts and it’s therapeutic to express myself.”
The casual nature of the open mic was only heightened by the venue. The event was originally scheduled to be at Holy Grounds coffee, but they were unable to host after their shop was struck by a drunk driver. While the change in location could have cancelled or postponed the event, the resourceful setting of a backyard ended up resonating with the homegrown feel that suffused the poetry and the poets themselves.
The decor of the event was simple and endearing. The stage was a slightly elevated porch, the microphone was provided by simply speaking louder, the stage lights were repurposed from Christmas, and the seating was picnic blankets. The event had homemade baked goods to share and sold small block prints made by juniors Truman Lesak and Ashton Carless.
Junior Amelia Anthony, Tunnel editor in chief, addressed the importance of vulnerability and being raw and vulnerable in art and in front of others during her invocation.
“I was overwhelmed with gratitude and warmth towards everyone who came out to harvest,” Anthony said. “There were so many first-time readers at the event, which made me so happy. I love teens producing and sharing art, and I am privileged to be able to provide a space for them to do so.”
The poetry, the people, and the place coalesced to show a piece of South Pasadena’s youth writer culture. It was local, charmingly honest, and welcoming, and it gave teens another opportunity to share poetry with their peers. The open mic stuck to its roots, and was all the more successful because of that.