‘It’s enlightening’: Noyes Cultural Arts Center hosts spoken word open mic for local artists


Daily File Photo by Daniel Tian

The Noyes Cultural Arts Center hosted its “Word Salad” spoken word open mic on Friday.

Selena Kuznikov, Assistant City Editor

Weinberg freshman Cathy Apolot confidently stepped up to the stage — a small makeshift lectern in front of a few seats filled with attendees — and began to proudly recite her poem off of her iPhone. 

Apolot was performing at Noyes Cultural Arts Center’s “Word Salad” second-ever spoken word open mic on Friday. Northwestern and Evanston guests alike were invited to sign in on a sheet and share their work.

“I’ve been looking for different ways to connect to poetry or spoken word here,” Apolot said. “Originally, I wasn’t planning on speaking, but then I was like, ‘you know what, whatever, I’ll do it.’ There’s a lot of solace in the fact that a lot of times, I’m not going to see these people again.”

Apolot said some of her inspiration stems from her time performing in jazz clubs in her home state of Nebraska, and more recently, how her Black and African identities tie into life as a college student. She read a collection of recent poems relating to her femininity and experience as a Black woman in the U.S.

Leah Leviton, an Evanston resident who moved to the city about a year ago, said she read a short essay on end-of-life planning that inspired her spoken word. She also said her own personal experiences, humor, art and details inspire her work. 

“I’m a visual artist who has gotten more interested in writing over the past few years,” Leviton said. “I’m very shy, but it seemed casual and lowkey. I’ve attended many (open mics) over the years but never read at one.”

Leviton said she saw the flier for the event in a city email and intends to continue attending and performing. 

Angela Allyn, Evanston’s community arts program coordinator, said she plans to continue hosting open mics monthly throughout the school year. She said she wants it to be a safe space for writers to perform their work. 

Allyn said the next open mic event will be at the end of October to celebrate Halloween.

“We have a lot of visual arts, we have some performing arts, but it seemed to me that there wasn’t anything like this for people who sit at home and write poems, people who write lyrics, people who write memoirs,” Allyn said. “I’m just excited that we have a program for writers.”

Allyn also said she hopes to see more students attend the open mics –– she said the events are accessible and close to both NU and Evanston Township High School. 

Apolot said she plans on going back to the cultural center for its upcoming open mics because being in a creative environment encourages her to write more.

“Spoken word is empowering,” Apolot said. “It’s enlightening because I might read something and then it finally clicks. How it sounds, how my audience is taking it and then it kind of cements how I feel about that work.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @selenakuznikov 

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