Tongues in Common Creates Opportunities for Self-Expression in the Community
Tongues in Common, a local poetry and open mic night, continues to promote self-expression within the Horry County community despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Selena Mendoza, host and co-organizer of the event, said Tongues in Common typically runs every four to six weeks at the yoga studio, Yoga in Common, which is located in Market Common. Mendoza said the event is open to all genres of creativity including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, music and acting.
The event typically runs about five to eight open mic slots for people in the audience to come up and read. She said the readings run for about five minutes each and there is an intermission with provided refreshments. Mendoza said that following the break, a featured reader will perform for about 12 minutes.
The date of the next installment of Tongues in Common is yet to be determined. Mendoza said this is due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the area and her return to Coastal Carolina University’s campus as a second-year graduate student.
The event began in April of 2019 by CCU theater student, Aliza Saper. Mendoza said that Saper based the concept on an event in her hometown.
“We do have a motto like our slogan is, ‘come to listen, come to be heard, come to find home’,” Mendoza said.
Linda Phillips, the owner of Yoga in Common, said the event is open to everyone, but students and faculty are the primary attendees with some regulars from the general public. The event organizers hope to spread the word about Tongues in Common to increase attendance.
Phillips said the studio began hosting the event when Saper and her theater professor, Benjamin Sota, approached looking for a venue. They were searching for a space that felt more open than something like a theater that would be restricted in seating. She said when Yoga in Common agreed, they didn’t know if it was going to be a one-time thing or continue on as it had.
Phillips said Mendoza manages most of the promotional work of social media posting and handing out flyers. Mendoza hosts during the event and posts the recording of the readings on their YouTube channel.
“It’s a lot of work to promote and keep this going and she has done it. Just been such a soldier for this,” Phillips said. “She has kept this alive.”
Sage Short, a senior at CCU, said she became a featured reader by submitting her name under one of the organization’s Facebook posts that asked for people to volunteer. Short said it was always her goal to perform her poetry orally and Tongues in Common allowed her to achieve that.
“It was very scary at first. I was shaking and extremely anxious. But it was incredibly rewarding, and every time after I got less and less nervous,” Short said.
She said she feels Tongues in Common has an immense impact on the community because of its status as one of the only places where writers and readers can join together.
Phillips said she has witnessed this impact in the return of writers and readers. She said during the COVID-19 pandemic, people still attended in person with masks and while social distancing.
“I think the format that Aliza modeled for us, and Selena has continued, creates that authenticity in this event and I think that’s what attracts people,” Phillips said.
Mendoza said Tongues in Common has had a profound impact on her because she has met so many people and built a community through this event. The ultimate goal is to create a safe space where people can be heard through their own performance or those of others.
For more information, please visit the organization’s Facebook page under the public group “Tongues in Common” or follow their Instagram, @tonguesincommon. Or, for a look at some of the performances, visit the “Tongues in Common” YouTube channel.