Over 50 students gathered on a Zoom meeting Tuesday for the semester’s very first Burning Swamp, an open mic night for students, faculty and alumni alike to come together for their love of creative writing.
Multiple students shared original poetry for their respective audience, and throughout the night, other participants would chime in through Zoom’s chatting feature with their collective support. The atmosphere was a welcoming one, encouraging any attendee to read and share their art.
“I came to Burning Swamp for the first time my freshman year.” Breanna Salverson, the emcee of the event said. “The atmosphere of Burning Swamp is just amazing and empowering.”
“The environment is accepting.” A.J. Abad, a Georgia Southern student and reader at Burning Swamp said. “People can read what they want.”
Burning Swamp started back in 2012 as a featured reader event. Certain faculty and a limited number of students would be decided ahead of time and their work would be presented.
When Benjamin Drevlow, a writing and linguistics professor began to oversee the event in 2015, he changed the style completely to give a different emphasis to the event. He explained that his creation of this new open mic setting was to give students a more hands-on experience. He ventured away from the featured reader set-up and allowed any interested students to share their pieces openly.
The goal at hand was to create more community among GS’ writer population in a form different from the usual workshop.
“It’s all about congregation,” Drevlow said. “And giving them a chance to speak their words.”
In the world of COVID-19, the need for community is further demonstrated, explaining Burning Swamp’s success despite adapting to a virtual space. Instead of sitting in each other’s company at Eagle Creek, a participant of Burning Swamp can expect to be met with a supportive audience with positive, real-time encouragement.