Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Writers Block redefines the open mic

Steven Kim/TM
Artists who participated played music and recited poetry, as well as other works in Downtown Long Beach. Peters said that this was the largest turnout for the event ever since it began.

When one thinks of an open mic night, what comes to mind might be a coffee shop full of blank faces from strangers that are probably judging what the performer has to deliver.


The Writers Block is simply an audience of musicians, poets and writers that gather on the shore of Long Beach not only to watch performances but to perform, as well.


English literature major Clayton Peters started the Writers Block with his friend Alex Black.


“One day, Alex brought up the idea to get it started and turn it into something so other people would have a forum that isn’t an open mic and doesn’t have a pretentious and intimidating vibe to it.


“It’s really open-aired and free-formed. You can do and say what you want without being judged,” Peters said.


In this group, the individual doesn’t have to deal with signing up or pre-show anxiety. Instead, this is a less intimidating method and encourages participation.


Constant support from those that come out every Wednesday at 10 p.m. has led the Writers Block to celebrate its six-month anniversary on Feb. 16.


Dennis Ashcroft-Zanabria, who met a contributor to the Writers Block while in San Francisco, has been collaborating with Peters for the past six months.


Ashcroft-Zanabria described his first time performing at Writers Block, where he met Black and Peters.


“When I came back down to Los Angeles, I met Clayton, Arthur Hitchcock and Alex Black for the first time. I read, and liked the atmosphere and just kept going.”


Ashcroft-Zanabria and Peters both announce the Writers Block at Portfolio Coffeehouse, then head toward the beach across Ocean Boulevard to set up for the night.


On the night of its six-month anniversary, Writers Block had more than 30 people that gathered together around a lit candle on a microphone stand.


Clayton and Ashcroft-Zanabria gave out an introduction to the group, as Clayton mentions a letter he found on the platform written by an anonymous person.


Setting up on a platform where a mural is displayed, the location has gotten the Block in trouble with the Long Beach Police Department.


The night went on after Peters and others recited poems, stories and performed a variety of songs.

People were supportive and respectful of the participants that chose to share.


The crowd even started to sing along with a young man who dedicated Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” to his mother.  He played his guitar and stirred up the group into a big applause.


It was 1:15 in the morning, only eight artists were left and began to pack up. In the midst of leaving,  Long Beach police showed up with a helicopter.


No one was arrested but the small group was lectured for a half hour about how dangerous it was to be at the location.


“Beside the fact the police shut us down, the Writers Block No. 24 (six-month anniversary) was an awesome night,” Peters said.


The Writers Block continued its tradition this past Wednesday.


The support from so many people has prevented the Writers Block from actually shutting down for good.

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Writers Block redefines the open mic