Saturday, 25 January 2014

Open Mic/Poetry Slams

Since joining the blogger-writing community, I noticed that requests regarding poem choices for open-mic nights appear regularly. A poet will agonise about which poem(s) should be selected for the all-important reading, and ask others to choose the piece they think 'strongest.' Recommendations can be as varied at alphabet combinations.

Poetry Slams are another aspect of writers-as-performers, where text is viewed as secondary to performance. Well, a little showoff-manship never hurt anybody. The nature of the event dictates simplicity of style, one which can be immediately apprehended by an audience (No time for subtleties or hidden meanings - they like their steak upfront and hanging off the edge of the plate.).

I don't have an issue with any of these events. They're popular, and provide entertainment and outlets for poets who might not otherwise have access to an audience. There's a limit of credibility, of course. Just because two drunk people are shouting at each other in the street, and I find the exchange amusing, it doesn't necessarily follow that I think the exchange is worthy of publication.

Years ago, I attended an open-mic night at a pub in Norwich. Ten poets, or so, took part, gathered around tables at the end of a large room. Unfortunately, the organiser hadn't realised it was in fact St Patrick's Day, and the pub, Lucky Shamrock or some such, heaved with about 200 drunken people, guffawing at each other's work/personal stories at the end of a long day. 

This was the same room where ten poets had innocently gathered to share their Poetic Thoughts.

It wasn't a successful night for poetry, but the satellite sports channel retained a surprisingly devoted following throughout the evening.

However, on the night, I met a young woman - quirky, inventive, whose dress style was tanktops, a hippie skirt, and Doc Martin boots. She later took it upon herself to gather a poetry 'library' - actually just books she liked - and travel around England, and Europe, parking her van on a city street, and setting up a table with poetry books on it, and invite anyone passing to read poetry with her. She would also hand out cards with 'poetic' thoughts scribbled on them.

Poetry to the people.

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