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South Salt Lake Journal

Teens express themselves at Teen Open Mic

Mar 22, 2019 11:24AM ● By Bill Hardesty

Sonia, 14, sharing her rapping skills at the Teen Open Mic. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty |[email protected]

“Before you see the setting sun 

see the ones you love because they are the fun.”

These are the concluding lines from a poem entitled “One Day” written and read by Derrick, 14, during the second Teen Open Mic event held at the Commonwealth Performing Arts & Youth Entertainment Center (commonly called Commonwealth) on Feb. 28. Commonwealth is part of the Promise South Salt Lake afterschool programs and is located at the Hip Hop Education and Resource Center (The HERC) at 2505 S. State St.

This time students from Historic Scott School, Commonwealth, and Granite Park Junior High School participated. Students read poetry (mostly written by them), told riddles, played the ukulele and rapped. 


Derrick’s poem was written about his 17-year-old sister who died unexpectedly in 2017. 

“One day she was here and next day she isn’t,” Derrick said, explaining the title of the poem.

At the first Teen Open Mic, Derek read another original poem written about his mother who left the family in 2016. In that poem, Derrick express his feelings of not having a mother in his life.

“Writing is my therapy. It is where I turn to when I feel sad,” Derrick pointed out.

Derrick has suffered through tragedies in his young life. At times, he is a bit shy, but he is also very mature in his observations. When he is not writing poems or short stories, he enjoys video games, reading (his favorite poet is Emily Dickinson), playing basketball and baseball. He confessed that he is a “pool shark” and loves that the Historic Scott School afterschool program has a pool table.


Sonia, 14, performed and was the emcee for the event. The staff asked for a volunteer and Sonia raised her hand because “it sounded like a lot of fun.”  The word fun describes Sonia. When asked why she comes, she replied, “It is fun to be here.”

She has attended Commonwealth since the beginning of the school year. She enjoys the many clubs such as street art, dance, voice, Afrobeat (a music genre that combines elements of West African musical style), fine art and music. Her favorite is voice.

Before performing, Sonia announced, “I am a singer aka a rapper.” She rapped to a clean version of Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow.”  She selected this song to honor the artist and “it is fun song to rap to and the lyrics are fun to sing.”  


Love, 14, performed two songs on the ukulele. She likes the ukulele because “it is small and easier to play.”

However, Love is an accomplished violinist. She has played both classical and fiddle since the age of 10.

Love played “House of Gold” by Twenty One Pilots and “Riptide’ by Vance Joy. She selected the songs because “I knew them really well and the tune sounds interesting.”

Love is also involved in the jazz dance club at Commonwealth. The thing that prevents her from her artistic pursuits – homework.

The history of Teen Open Mic

Teen Open Mic grew out of an Anti-Slam event held in conjunction with the Commonwealth Fall Festival 2018. In turn, the Anti-Slam grew from the work of the Promise Collective which encourages kids to interact with the spoken word through such mediums as poetry, writing, singing and other artistic forms. The Promise Collective is part of the Promise South Salt Lake City Initiative. 

The next Teen Open Mic will be held March 28 at the Her Ner Moo Community Center (2531 S. 400 East).