Celebrating Love Through Storytelling

Mason Folklore Roundtable hosts annual open mic event at Old Town Hall


Fourth Estate/Maggie Roth

Students and community members alike took to the stage at Old Town Hall to tell their best love stories in front of a crowd at Mason’s Folklore Roundtable and Fall for the Book’s annual Love Stories open mic. On Thursday, Feb. 27, storytellers recited their feelings through poetry and stream of consciousness. 

Though the theme seemed to call for romance, not all of the stories tackled that type of love. Instead, some chose to express familial love or recite an ode to a beloved hometown, making the event an inclusive tribute to love in all of its iterations.

For those without an original piece of poetry, prose or personal tale to tell but who still wanted to have a place on the stage, classic love stories by authors like E.E. Cummings and Sylvia Plath were available to be read aloud. 

This event was one of two storytelling open mics run by the Folklore Roundtable program, preceded by the Halloween-themed Spooky Story event held this past fall. The events are designed to provide students in the program with a platform to share their stories.

“At least in folklore, almost everybody has at least one ghost story, but everybody has a love story, no matter who they are,” said Debra Lattanzi Shutika, the chair of Mason’s English department and associate professor of folklore. “Whether it’s lost love or someone talking about how they met their wife, we all have that experience in common.”

According to Shutika, the folklore program has been hosting their love stories event for over 10 years. In 2019, the group joined with the non-profit literary arts organization Fall for the Book to bring the event out into the Northern Virginia community. 

Fall for the Book, while primarily known for its annual autumn book festival, holds year-round literary events to promote student engagement with literature, highlighting authors and providing student writers with a platform to share their work. 

“It’s an outreach to the community to share in reading and literature, and to invite authors to come and share their works,” said Kate Lewis, the marketing director for Fall for the Book.

Love Stories is one of the three pop-up lit nights that the organization holds every year. Coming up next is the Magazine Editor Speed Dating and Pitch Workshop on March 26. And in April, the organization will be hosting author Rainbow Rowell.

“Any opportunity students have to get in front of a crowd to either share their work or their stories is really valuable,” Shutika said.

For students in attendance, this event meant a chance to branch out into the world of literature and storytelling beyond Mason’s classes and meet some of the people who are out there telling the stories they love.