Every seat in the house at Auburn-cafe Coffee Cat was taken Tuesday night after staff reconfigured the furniture to turn the room into a mini-theater.
Coffee Cat, in conjunction with the English club at Auburn, held a literary open-mic night open to all. Customers not there for the event were asked to stay and listen or sign up to participate.
“We usually get poetry, some fiction, but we also get some spoken word as well,” said Jakob Geiger, the host of the event.
Geiger started off a series of participants that read a variety of work that closely followed his prediction. He chose to read two poems, both personal in nature as many of the speakers that followed.
While most participants were undergraduate students, not all were. Steven Lonis-Shumate, an associate professor at Tuskegee University, read two fictional short stories. He was accompanied by three fans, his wife and two young children.
His first story revolved around a character named Elizabeth in the 18th century. That was followed by a companion story from the point of view of the character’s husband.
“I started writing in 2004, the same year I married my wife," Lonis-Shumate said. "She was the one to really encourage me to write and tell me I could and that’s what I needed."
Speakers read their pieces from phones, loose pieces of paper or from memory.
Amber Simpson read her poem "The Quickening," a free verse piece published in the latest issue of online literary publication Pif Magazine.
Not all speakers had experience reading their work in front of audiences.
“My creative writing teacher said I would get credit for reading my poems out loud,” said Anthony Tacheny as he stood in front of the crowd. Laughter followed throughout the coffee house, especially from the grad students and professors seated at the front.
Tacheny, sophomore in marketing, said he had never performed his work out loud.
“I probably would’ve came but I wouldn’t have spoke without my class,” he said.
He echoed the sentiment of the other participants saying that the comfortable environment allowed him to not worry about performing.