For a few hours every Wednesday night, the Rider Pub plays host to Brownwater, a student-run coffeehouse. The weekly event, like any good coffeehouse, has become a haven for coffee-sipping, music-loving students. In fact, there’s a new musical act taking the small stage of the Pub almost every week, according to sophomore Kevin Lawton, president of Brownwater.
“The usual acts at Brownwater are those individuals from Rider who play an instrument on the side and like to sing some songs,” he said. “Occasionally we get an outside band to perform for a little change.”
This week, however, was an entirely different story. There were no guitars, no amplifiers and no vocalists. In fact, Brownwater’s featured performer was not a group of musicians, but a group of writers.
Members of Writer’s Block, a student writing club led by Dr. Mickey Hess, took the stage to perform monologues and short stories that talked about everything from lost love to an intellectual oak tree.
“We spend a lot of time critiquing each other’s work, both in print form and out loud,” Hess said. “We set up events, like the one at Brownwater, to showcase what the students have been working on. Reading your work out loud is a great way for a new writer to get an audience.”
Freshman Rance Robeson agrees. Although he has read his works for an audience before, he still gets nervous before each performance.
“Before they called my name, you would think that I’d just finished running a 10-mile marathon, the way my heart beats,” he said. “It’s not until I get the first word out that my body actually relaxes.”
Robeson performed two poems at the event; his first work, a poem entitled “My Cocoa Butter Queen,” puts a modern spin on a traditional folk tale. When he performs the poem, Robeson speaks in a Southern accent to convey the persona of someone who hails from North Carolina.
“When I looked at my works, I had nothing that spoke on anything that had to do with folk culture,” he said. “I thought it would be cool to put the accent on. I was kind of worried that it wouldn’t catch because it has to be a story. I was like, ‘Oh, God, I hope they get it. I hope it’s not too long.’ But it came across.”
It was a relief for Robeson to be able to read his works to a college audience, an audience that often doesn’t have time to read creative works, he said.
“It is difficult, especially on a campus, to get someone to read it,” he said. “As students, we have to read so much throughout the semester. But it also gives you another sense of [the author’s] personality.”
The success of the event is good news for Writer’s Block, a student group that, slowly but surely, is edging its way into the spotlight, according to junior Robin Barletta.
“Writer’s Block hasn’t been a very active group on campus recently, but Dr. Hess and a few students have been trying to get the word out about it,” she said. “Hopefully with the reading at Brownwater, more people will want to be involved.”
It shouldn’t be too difficult for members of Writer’s Block to get others interested, especially if the club continues to make appearances at events such as Brownwater, according to Lawton. After all, the coffeehouse is all about “doing what you feel and getting your art out there,” he said.