On the first Friday night of October, a group of writers, readers and other community members showed up at Scuppernong Books for First Draft, a “curated open mic,” which is a part of the Greensboro Bound Literary Festival.
First Draft is an event where writers can read first drafts of work they are currently creating. It can range from poetry to short stories to fantasy novels. The term “curated open mic” was explained as having a few featured readers and room for anyone else interested to enter their names to possibly perform.
The backroom of the bookstore was full and lively. There were noise-makers being passed around, and the hosts suggested that the audience get drinks at the front of the store. The featured readers at this event were Brian Lampkin, Alice Lesperance and Jason Herndon.
Ashley Lumpkin, the moderator of the event, kicked things off by introducing the room to the process of First Draft and by reading two short poems of her own. “Greensboro Bound desires to honor writers at all stages of their careers,” Lumpkin proclaimed, emphasizing the openness of the event.
Brian Lampkin, co-owner of Scuppernong Books, started the longer readings of the night with segments from his upcoming short non-fiction book on the Tarboro Three, three young black men who were executed in the 1970s in rural North Carolina for being accused of raping a white woman.
They were three black men of the long-standing history of executions and lynchings which occurred in the South, Lampkin described. When asked by someone in the audience why he decided to write about this case Lampkin explained plainly that there is prevailing secrecy when these events happen and, “you’ve got to bring light to the secrets.”
Jason Herndon was up next with a short story he had only briefly worked on after conversing one day with the moderator, Lumpkin, about how some people “in death turn into something they could’ve never become in life.” His story was a fantasy about a woman whose high school boyfriend had been killed in a car accident, and her chance encounter with the ghost of the man years later.
After Herndon’s turn at the microphone, the first open mic performer was chosen from the bowl of handwritten names. One man was selected and went up to perform a poem. After a short intermission, a sophomore from Grimsley High School went up and read a short story about high school life. This was her second time performing at First Draft. There were a few more open mic performers and then the final featured reader of the night was up.
Alice Lesperance gave the room the “shortest, weirdest history lesson” and explained the history of female mystics before beginning her work titled, “Her Name Replaced with Anonymous.” Lesperance weaved in historical facts of the women she was describing with her own feelings on the anonymity of women throughout history. “It is a purposeful undoing,” Lesperance explained, finishing up the night’s performers.
Lumpkin gave one last address to the room, sharing that the purpose of the event was “our commitment to remembering.”