UH Hilo’s student-led arts and literary magazine Kanilehua hosts Open Mic Night

The participating students were bright and enthusiastic; the creativity was inspiring to the students who attended.

Uʻi plays ukulele while she sings into standing mic. Backdrop is a black curtain.
At Open Mic Night, Uʻilani Barongan sings an original song titled, “Easy.” Uʻi also read a poem she wrote titled, “I Am Not Fully of This World.” Feb. 22, 2024, Campus Center Plaza, UH Hilo. (Photo: Emily Thornton)

By Emily Thornton.

Talented students at University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo gathered together at the Campus Center Plaza on Thursday evening for Open Mic Night, where students read poetry, sang, and spontaneously performed improvisational theatre.

The lively event was hosted by the university’s student-run Kanilehua—UH Hilo’s Art and Literary Magazine, that put on a fun event with food, refreshments, and an artistic atmosphere. Students from Volcano Video Productions also helped make this event possible.

Students were encouraged to get up on stage and to have fun.

Uʻilani Barongan, editor in chief of Kanilehua, says the event was hosted with the intention of engaging students with the magazine, promoting recruitment for staff positions, and to show students different resources on campus.

Students joined the event throughout the evening. There was no sign up sheet so it was open to all who decided they wanted to participate.

“We want to make a difference in this magazine and show the awesomeness of our students,” says Barongan. “We have a really diverse community.”

During the event students read out poetry, some students even decided to share their original work. The poetry was a wide range of creative work, each piece was eye opening and very well written. A few students got up on stage and sang original songs and some decided to do some improv.

The participating students were bright and enthusiastic. The food, the refreshments, and the talent all brought an exciting energy to this semester. The creativity was inspiring to the students who attended.

This event was to boost Kanilehua and to showcase student work. Barongan is hoping for a new publication by next semester that will further inspire students of UH Hilo.

“Typically the magazine is to publish student art work,” Barongan says.

Barongan shared that the student run organization is hoping to do a dual publication with another UH Hilo student-led publication, Hohonu: A Journal of Academic Writing.

“Our next planned publication will be really special because a combined issue has never been done before and this will feature a few different campus orgs for students,” says Barongan. She hopes to provide each freshman student with a copy “so that they can get a really good idea of where their student fees are going and what resources they can utilize on campus.”

Kanilehua and Hohonu are also both still hiring editors and editors-in-chief.

Hopefully the Open Mic Night event will bring more engagement to the publications. Students are highly encouraged to submit their artwork or literary pieces to Kanilehua or their academic work to Hohonu. Also, if students are interested in working for either organization there are staff positions available for both publications.

Story by Emily Thornton, an English major at UH Hilo.

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