The Open Mic
The Open Microphone portion of Poetry Night begins after the featured performer concludes his/her performance and after a short 5-7 minute break around 9:00 PM. Entries are limited to two (2) pieces or 5 minutes, whichever is shorter. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to sign up for the Open Mic as spots are limited and on a first come, first serve basis. Often participants who arrive after the featured poet has begun find that the open mic list is full.
Poetry Readings and Open Mic: Apples and Watermelons
By Marla Greenway
To defend open mic against traditional poetry readings is tantamount to comparing watermelons and apples. The apples, or poetry readings, conform to traditional approaches to presenting poetry to the public, while the watermelons, or open mic performances and readings, take an unconventional, experimental approach. Each approach has its merits; for example, poetry readings are methodical, measured, rehearsed, and well planned, which require patience, in both the reader and the audience, to allow for moments of silence and introspection—a breath-holding wait for the next word. The apples slowly turn color, bending the branches of a tree. Open mic performances might also be rehearsed and well planned, but the presentation is often experimental, unconventional, and surprising, with high energy and possibly audience participation. Watermelons are thumped, sniffed to discern the coveted, sweet odor of ripeness, and cradled like an infant, being brought home.
When considering poetry readings as apples, we can find correlations to other uses for apples, such as apple pie, which usually calls for some sweeter, such as honey or sugar. Apple pie also requires a crust, which is made in advance, and carefully crafted in a dish. The apples are skinned, cored, chopped, and usually spiced with cinnamon. Then the pie is cooked for a period of time. It can be consumed hot or cold, and a la mode or nah la mode. This is a traditional and familiar approach to apples, which corresponds with the training, experience, and perhaps academic study of traditional poets and poetry presentations.
When it comes to the open mic, we find the adventure that is watermelon. Watermelons are generally BIG. They stand out because they are an anomalously large fruit. Their thick skin conceals sweet, unbearably juicy “meat” interlaced with seeds. Some people find the seeds annoying, and others like them because they can be jettisoned from the mouth toward a significant other at high speeds. Often, people will carefully cut a watermelon in sections, and eat the “meat” directly from the rind, allowing the juice to drip down their chins and splatter their tennis shoes. Others cut the meat from the rind, and eat it from a bowl or a plate. There is no traditional or familiar approach to watermelons because they entreat the “eater” to embark upon an adventure that he or she can enjoy over and over again. Apples and watermelons provide different manifestations of pleasure, much like the traditions of poetry readings and the adventurousness of open mic.