My local Arts Council has an Open Mic once a month. I have always participated in their activities related to my artwork, and between that and seeing their exhibits, I never quite understood how an open mic fit into their repertoire. But I have recently reached out to them, and after discussing my poetry and passion for writing, I ended up on their very tight, highly sought list of performers for this summer to read some of my poems. And the list of events is growing thanks to my first experience.
If you are anything like me, you may also read some of your poetry out loud before publishing. I don’t do this all the time, but I do it quite often. Why? Because even with free form, I want to make sure it has a cadence and flows nicely for the reader. I feel that with poetry being so intimate and a voice that comes straight from within, an easy-to-read poem helps the reader connect with my sentiment and what I am expressing.
Reading aloud becomes even more engaging with the audience at an open mic. If you have never been to one, you should know that it’s not as scary as it sounds, and it is an enriching experience, not only as an artist but also as a part of the small community that forms during the evening.
I attended my first one was last month to support a fellow writer and friend. And last week, encouraged by her and some of the comments on my recent piece regarding my journey as a poet, I stood up in front of the mic, greeted the audience with a smile and was very excited to share three of my poems. Each one was followed by a round of applause, and I was asked at the end if that was really my first time. It was an experience that went beyond what I could imagine, one that I feel has opened doors to not only help me feel more relaxed about performing in the future but also to continue to find my voice. The audience is not there to pass judgment on the quality of your poetry. They are not looking at you to score the tone of your voice, the way you move or even dress. They are there to share, to become a part of your creation, to celebrate the fact that you were brave enough to express your feelings and thoughts, and then share them. They are there to tell you “keep up the good work,” whether it’s through the applause, the words at the end, or simply with their eyes staring at you silently while you read.
If you are anything like me, and also read some of your poetry out loud before publishing, you should consider giving the gift of your poetry reading to others. Many people are eager to listen and celebrate your growth with you.
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