Mikrokosmos brings Mikrobrews, a literary open mic


Brogan Gillmore

Dan Arndt reads his work to a crowd of friends and strangers during Mikrobrews on Sept. 26 at The Donut Whole.

Past the donuts and coffee, in the back of The Donut Whole, an unusual open mic night took place Thursday. Mikrokosmos, Wichita State’s literary journal, hosted their seventh Mikrobrew, a literary open mic where participants can read their poetry, fiction or nonfiction stories, and other forms of creative writing.

“We have an open mic, so anyone can come and kind of share their work in a space that isn’t as scary,” said Sydney Martin, co-editor in chief of Mikrokosmos. 

“Because sometimes, it’s really scary to get up there. But this is a really supportive area to do that.”

Mikrobrew begins every open mic with a guest author who reads their work. Martin said these guests are often locals, but they occasionally bring in authors from out of state.

The seventh iteration saw Melissa Kingbird, a published poet from Minnesota, read her work.

Kingbird got in touch with Mikrokosmos through Jason Teal, the editor of the Heavy Feather Review, after being invited to Manhattan, Kansas, for another reading.

“He knew Becca [Yenser, co-editor in chief of Mikrokosmos and Sunflower reporter], so he suggested me to her, and I was in Kansas anyways,” Kingbird said.

Kingbird’s poems were raw and visceral, and her reading evoked physical reactions from the audience. The poet herself was moved. As she read her third poem, detailing a fistfight, Kingbird began to tear up. Her voice broke. She said she didn’t expect her poem to make her so emotional.

Kingbird said reading to an audience isn’t something she gets to do very often.

“This reading was really nice. I like hearing everybody else. I like seeing what different people bring,” Kingbird said.

After Kingbird’s set came the open mic, consisting of staff members of Mikrokosmos and locals who came to share their work.

Martin said the crowd of readers changes. Some Mikrobrews feature primarily staff members, while others are filled with local artists.

Presenters stood at the mic in front of the Donut Whole’s large windows, looking out on Douglas Street with more often than not a phone, or sometimes a few sheets of paper in hand. One participant brought his computer to the mic with him.

The bodies of work ranged from prose to poetry, funny to sad, long to short, but what they had in common was the personal nature of the stories.

Martin said Mikrobrews are often hosted at coffee shops to stay true to the “brew” aspect of the show. They tried it in bars, but that limited the people who could come see the show.

Thursday night’s Mikrobrew was the first of this semester. The next event will be Oct. 19, and Mikrokosmos plans to host one reading a month.