The crowd assembled before the stage with their beer and café mochas as English literature professor Louis Simon welcomed everyone to the Sigma Tau Delta Open Mic & Book Drive. He cleverly arranged a stack of books from an adjacent table and brought them with him to the stage to read. One was “Surfing on eBay for Dummies” and another regarding the principles of Pythagoreanism.
“The students had the idea for this,” said Simon, organizer of the USFSP chapter of the International English Honor Society. “They suggested the idea for the open-mic night and book drive.”
Students made their way towards the stage during the April 22 event and recited poems from their phones. One announced that he was reading his literature assignment, which was due on Monday and ended up being Robert Frost’s “Choose Something Like a Star.” English literature majors Brandie Middlekauss and Cody Aswald both recited a self-composed work and a story by John Cage.
But poetry and prose were not the only niches of the night. One woman approached the mic and related a joke her son recently told her while a duet by local act Get Young was performed.
The table Simon carried the books from in his earlier performance hosted a series of works from Mikhail Gorbachev’s “Perestroika” to Shakespeare’s “Othello.” Many brought works they didn’t want anymore and others just took a few handfuls to peruse for personal pleasure.
Simon closed the venue with a performance on his tongue-drum as the audience watched with a combination of delight and awe.
“I just glad this turned out to be such a great success,” Simon said.