A Night To Remember: TWLOHA’s First Open Mic Night


Performers raise awareness for mental health. (Source: Karen Dong (III))

It’s May, and everyone is feeling burnt out. The pressure of AP exams, summer job searches and the Term 4 workload has taken a toll on students’ mental health that not even the brightening weather can relieve. It can be difficult to find space or time to release all this pent-up stress and emotion, and the remote learning model has left the school community feeling divided.

Recognizing these challenges, Boston Latin School’s To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) club sought to unite students and elevate the conversation surrounding mental health through its first open-mic night. Held on May 21 over Zoom, this event allowed students of all grade levels to come together for a night of reflection through art. The audience was sizable, yet small enough to main- tain the intimacy of the event, which featured several live performances.

Throughout the event, the club held a fundraiser to raise money for the larger TWLOHA organization, which aims to provide aid and support for those struggling with mental illness. The night began with a slideshow and introductory message from TWLOHA officers. They emphasized the importance of self- care, especially during May, which was Mental Health Awareness Month, and established a safe, positive environment before moving onto the focus of the night: the art.

The event featured pieces from various media, which the officers collected and assembled into the slideshow prior to the event. The mood rose and fell with each performance, from an energizing cover of Olivia Rodrigo’s “Good 4 U” to more sobering poetry readings and thought-provoking art pieces. These works explored mental health related themes including gender, self discovery, emotional pain and death. After each performance, audience members flooded the Zoom chat with messages of appreciation for the artists’ shared vulnerability and talent.

Natalie Salter (II) , who was among those impressed by the showcase, says, “It was a nice space to discuss mental health and be very open and honest […] and appreciate the fine art that people presented.”

Each work of art left an impact on the attendees, but some of the most memorable performances were the live poetry readings. Poems ranged in length but were all equal in emotional depth and honesty. Some were delivered by the poets themselves, while TWLOHA officers read others whose writers wished to remain anonymous. Through their use of unconventional word structure and lyrical language, student poets were able to channel their own experiences into moving pieces that the audience could connect with.

For performer Isabelle Goodrich (I), poetry has always been a vital medium for self-expression and community engagement. She unmuted (the Zoom equivalent of taking the mic) to share two original poems titled “I Get in the Car With My Father to Talk About Dead People” and “Lieutenant Island, Wellfleet.” When asked about her approach to writing poetry, Goodrich says, “When I write poems I’m really not thinking about a message that I’m sending; I’m thinking about expressing a specific feeling or emotion or experience that I haven’t processed yet.” For Goodrich and other poets, this makes writing poetry a very personal and rewarding experience. She continues, “To me, poetry is this really cathartic thing. I don’t go into it thinking, ‘Oh, what are other people going to think of this?’ I think about, ‘What do I need to say right now or what do I need to express?’”

TWLOHA President Emmanuelle Bogomolni (II) utilizes poetry in a similar way. In addition to hosting the event, she performed an original poem titled “Winter,” which draws from her own experiences with mental health. She hopes that events like the open-mic night will encourage students to explore art as a creative outlet and take advantage of TWLOHA’s welcoming space. “Art is a really great way to express yourself and channel your emotions,” she says, “There’s always a community at BLS if you ever just want to talk, or you just want to laugh.”