Students and community gather for monthly Spilled Ink Open Mic Nights
Posted on 12/20/2019
Participants of November Spilled Ink together on the Jirani stage for a group photo

For a creative outlet, or simply an enjoyable evening of local entertainment, swing by the Jirani Coffeehouse in Olde Town Manassas on the fourth Friday of the month for a Spilled Ink open mic night, where students and teachers alike share their art with the Spilled Ink crowd.

Spilled Ink was started by Beville Middle School Teacher John Dutton to draw both writers and listeners of poetry together. The idea for the literature-based open mic nights came to Dutton after attending a writers’ and poets’ night in Haymarket. “My problem was that Haymarket was a two-hour round trip for me, so I could not attend the event on a regular schedule. I wished for something more centrally located so that more people in Prince William County could attend on a regular basis, myself included. I felt the people on the east side were missing out on a great opportunity,” Dutton said.

On a recent night, Spilled Ink veteran Graciela Hernandez, a 10th-grader at Colgan High School, shared a piece about a person waking up from a 10-day coma, only remembering 10 things.

Student Graciela Hernandez in front of Jirani stageGraciela said that it was her mother who found the event online and introduced it to her three years ago. “I was a bit nervous at my first reading but the people and the environment are very welcoming and comfortable, so I felt better,” said Graciela.

Amelia Hanneman reading her poems on the Jirani stageA second student, Amelia Hanneman, an eighth-grader at Marsteller Middle School, shared a series of acrostic poems about the members of her family.

Before the night was through, the readers were joined by Marsteller Middle School Language Arts Teacher Heather Osial, who shared a futuristic fiction piece.

The November Spilled Ink event progressed with sets of four readers sharing their pieces, with announcements about other writing events peppering the evenings schedule. Photos were taken by local photographer, John Cowgil.

At the end of the evening, and on the website, Dutton concludes, “If Spilled Ink interests anyone, he or she can come to Jirani Coffeehouse on the fourth Friday of every month. The Poet Laureate Circle meets at 6 p.m., followed by the open mic from 7–10:00 p.m.”

Dutton and the other Spilled Ink regulars hope to see more PWCS students joining their future events.