Open mics are often a draw for high school and college students. They provide a safe place to wrestle through emotions and political ideas. Some participants come for the free microphone therapy, others have a genuine interest in writing. Here are five reasons why I find open mics to be an invaluable part of my social fabric.
1. Voice - Delivery style and voice. It's a great way to experience a variety of styles of writing and delivery. It also provides an opportunity to rehearse voice modulation, enunciation, and rhythm.
2. Exposure - Motivated to grow. Exposure to a variety of voices and delivery styles can be a great motivator to improve one's work and reading style. Sometimes the way an audience responds to the delivery of a poem can change the way you hear and relate to your own work.
3. Listeners -The gift of listening. Those who attend open mics learn that the audience and participants are willing and interested listeners, which has the added perk of helping to build confidence.
4. Inspiration - Energy and creativity. A variety of ideas and concerns, as well as invigorating discussions about writing, community and political activism, and personal growth are points of inspiration.
5. Friendships - Common interests and causes. Authentic feedback on writing, not to mention going to events beyond open mics, are another powerful reason to stretch your social muscles and come on out to an open mic.
Imagine an eatery with brilliant white tall bare walls and even brighter lights, a sterile canvass waiting to be painted with food, people, good conversation, rotating art and energy. This is Hot Butter - as warm as it sounds.
Exotic deserts, vegetables with curry and other delightful flavors... and coffee can be ordered without the barrage of questions on size. Of course, it is served in a white cup, but a real coffee cup, not a to-go container with a logo. They expect that you will want to stay, and you do.
As usual, for most poetry readings, there was a Facebook post inviting hundreds of people, and while everyone didn't respond, those that came out on a Sunday evening from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. filled all the seats in the house and left some standing. One of the reasons for such a healthy gathering might be that the admission is free - a rarity these days with poetry readings charging anywhere from $5 to $15, depending. Mostly though, it is the warm inviting personality of the host, Christa Youngern. At least, that is what drew me out because anyone that knows me knows that I loathe driving at night.
It was raining, and it actually felt like a mild winter evening. As I pulled up to the parking lot, I thought - this can't be the place - it's too well lit. So, it was simply a unique evening all the way around, from the crisp weather to the well-lit cafe to the inviting artists, hosts and feature poet.
I decided to sit as far away from everyone and everything - all the way in the back - my comfort zone; it also allows me to better observe without being concerned with being observed. An attentive audience was completely engaged and even patrons who were there simply for the delicious food were drawn in and participated.
Many, many, many acoustic guitar performances - very folksy - reminiscent of the Cohen Brother's movie Llewyn Davis. Oh and that painting behind me in the photo is fantastic! Don't get me started on the dj who knew how to cue up music to compliment poems as though it was all rehearsed.
So, next second Sunday of the month mark it on your calendar: Hot Butter with art, music, delectable vegetables, great people and poetry-poetry-poetry.
Welcome to my observations on the craft of writing, venues and writing community experiences.