Northwestern students host Halloween mic night at The Great Room

Instead of studying for midterms or trick-or-treating, some Northwestern students dressed in costumes gathered in The Great Room to listen to a professor impersonate Edgar Allen Poe and share pieces of poetry on Halloween night.

NU’s Undergraduate English Association hosted a Halloween open mic night Wednesday that attracted nearly 15 students wearing lab coats and Harry Potter themed costumes.

English Prof. Betsy Erkkila kicked off the night, welcoming students in the voice of Edgar Allen Poe. Erkkila wore an elaborate costume complete with a bushy black moustache and a tousled black wig. A fake black raven perched on a chair close to the mic.

Weinberg senior Katie Flanagan, who helped organize the event, said The Great Room was the perfect place for the Halloween event. The dining hall features a steeply sloped dark wood ceiling, thick beams and narrow high-backed chairs.

Weinberg senior Ryan Jenkins said he enjoyed the event, calling it “very in the spirit of things.” He said Erkkila’s performance was “spirited.”

“The costume was great,” Jenkins said. “She looks like my vision of Edgar Allen Poe.”

Erkkila turned the mic over to students after about 40 minutes. Student performances included Poe’s famous poem “The Raven” and a recitation of singer Regina Spektor’s lyrics to “Mary Ann.”  Several raffles were held between performances, with prizes including a NU fleece blanket, the first two books in the Billy Purgatory series and gift cards to Howard’s Books and Market Fresh Books. 

After the performances, students could stay to eat pie and play the game “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night,” where participants guess books based on their opening lines.

English Prof. Jay Grossman, who heads the UEA, said events like the open mic night are a great way to build a sense of community for English majors.

“Because the major is relatively unstructured, it’s just a chance to have other opportunities for English majors to know each other,” he said.

He said he was pleased with the number of students who came out to the Halloween event, which was largely organized by the students.

“It was a great turnout,” he said.

Weinberg senior Bob Lee said he attended the event because he is currently in both Grossman’s and Erkkila’s classes, and they recommended the event to him.

Lee said the event was a great way to spend Halloween night.

“You have a lot of people coming together who all appreciate literature,” he said. “You get together, you can appreciate the spookiness aspect of the literature.”