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Open mic night flourishes

About a dozen people come to share at the Ugly Mug coffeehouse each Saturday night.

They bring poetry, guitars, backup music and their soul to share with the others. The “open mic” night is in its fourth month, and has been steadily growing, said Sudan Aunu, who helps run the open mic nights.

“Open mics started in small spaces like this before they migrated to the big clubs,” Aunu said, referring to the growing trend of having open mic nights in large venues in major cities. “To bring it back to its roots is something I look forward to doing.”

Last week, Aunu, who uses the stage name “True Poet,” shared a few of his words.

“They are like their father the devil,” Aunu recites in a poem. “Thus the whole world is in trouble.”

Steve Hills, who works at Ugly Mug, next gets on his guitar and strums out a story — in honor of Valentine’s Day — about love that is unrequited at first but eventually returned.

“I want to spend each moment singing your song,” Hills sings.

Next, Estella Williams reads a prose work about dancing.

“Have you ever been to a party and wanted so much to dance, but nobody asked you?”

The open mic nights are for anyone to come and share any type of song or spoken word, Aunu said. There are only a few rules — turn your cell phone off, applaud for each person and respect others’ freedom of expression.

“If they get up here and say Barack Obama is the worst president in the history of the world, we ask you to swallow it,” Aunu said. “We’re all about free expression.”

Aunu and Hills say the appeal of open mic nights comes from the opportunity to share without being judged.

“You feel like everyone values what you’ve given them,” Aunu said. “You don’t get that everywhere.”

“I think the appeal’s really twofold,” Hills said. “It gives a lot of artists in the community a chance to come out and show what they do and share that with others, and also gives other people a place to meet and hear good music and fellowship with each other.”

Hills said attendance at the open mics at Ugly Mug has been steadily growing since it started.

“It’s been a wonderful thing,” Hills said. “We’ve seen new artists step up to the plate. We hope it continues to grow.”

Aunu encouraged all to come to listen and share, whether they will read poetry or prose, or sing a song.

The last rules? “Check your ego at the door, and just have fun,” Aunu said.

The open mic nights are from 6 to 8 p.m. each Saturday night at 1024D Centerbrooke Lane. For more information, call 925-4233.