Open-Mic Poetry (1 Viewer)


Anyone have any anecdotes about poetry open-mic events ? I have recently undertaken a monthly showcase here in Chicago (with a more experienced co-host) and am curious as to other board members' experiences in these types of situations. My own track record in this area is bizarre, in that I read at the 2006 Chicago Poetry Fest, but have virtually no other knowledge of the "performance" scene. I have always considered myself more of a writer than a performer and have seldom sought out the stage.

Rekrab - I take it you are a seasoned veteran of live readings. Any advice/warnings to share ?

And have any Buk members just completely fallen on their arse in front of a live audience ? Failed completely ? Did it matter ? I have to say that I did just that at our first gig, but I survived it. I read a poem that was supposed to reveal itself as being darkly funny, but everyone was just basically uncomfortable about it at the end. Nervous laughter, the clearing of throats, and "pity applause". Fuck ! That's what I get for trying to provide a punchline to my poems ! Oh well.....

Also - How is the open-mic scene in Europe/UK/OZ etc. ?
Anyone have any anecdotes about poetry open-mic events ?

poetry readings
by Charles Bukowski, from Bone Palace Ballet © Black Sparrow Press

poetry readings

poetry readings have to be some of the saddest
damned things ever,
the gathering of the clansmen and clanladies,
week after week, month after month, year
after year,
getting old together,
reading on to tiny gatherings,
still hoping their genius will be
making tapes together, discs together,
sweating for applause
they read basically to and for
each other,
they can't find a New York publisher
or one
within miles,
but they read on and on
in the poetry holes of America,
never daunted,
never considering the possibility that
their talent might be
thin, almost invisible,
they read on and on
before their mothers, their sisters, their husbands,
their wives, their friends, the other poets
and the handful of idiots who have wandered
from nowhere.
I am ashamed for them,
I am ashamed that they have to bolster each other,
I am ashamed for their lisping egos,
their lack of guts.
if these are our creators,
please, please give me something else:
a drunken plumber at a bowling alley,
a prelim boy in a four rounder,
a jock guiding his horse through along the
a bartender on last call,
a waitress pouring me a coffee,
a drunk sleeping in a deserted doorway,
a dog munching a dry bone,
an elephant's fart in a circus tent,
a 6 p.m. freeway crush,
the mailman telling a dirty joke
Funny I watched a Candian Sound poet, on Bravo TV this morning getting ready for work I think his name was Carlton Bok. I don't care enough to get the name right It was dreadful. One publisher inteviewed called him the most exciting Canadian poet in the last 2o years. I may just be me but I don't need or want to hear someone yelling blip qwerk Jabber jumpwocky qwim blerk riddle while I'm having a beer. I swear that is a quote from the performance. Hope I haven't violated copyright
I used to host an open mic in Madison a few years ago. Had a blast.

'Bout the only thing i saw REALLY bomb was people going up on stage and trying out their new 'Stand Up Comic' routine on the crowd. Numerous times. The dude was not meant to be a comic.

One time, these two guys were called up to the stage and they emerged wearing boxes painted up to make them look like rockem sockem robots. The music started. It was Mr. Roboto by Styx. Then, the two proceeded to beat the living shit out of each other.

As for anecdotes, from all I've seen, it's best not to get up there and take yourself too seriously. Nothing bored the piss out of me more than someone who thinks they're Shakespeare, reading so called poems that have no intelligable meaning to anyone other than the person who wrote it.
Here is another:

Charles Bukowski - The Poetry Reading

at high noon
at a small college near the beach
the sweat running down my arms
a spot of sweat on the table
I flatten it with my finger
blood money blood money
my god they must think I love this like the others
but it's for bread and beer and rent
blood money
I'm tense lousy feel bad
poor people I'm failing I'm failing
a woman gets up
walks out
slams the door
a dirty poem
somebody told me not to read dirty poems
it's too late.
my eyes can't see some lines
I read it
desperate trembling
they can't hear my voice
and I say,
I quit, that's it, I'm
and later in my room
there's scotch and beer:
the blood of a coward.
this then
will be my destiny:
scrabbling for pennies in tiny dark halls
reading poems I have long since beome tired
and I used to think
that men who drove buses
or cleaned out latrines
or murdered men in alleys were
Awhile ago a bar that mostly had live music decided to have a poetry night once a month. Since I was a regular there I couldn't pass up reading my short stories. It was mostly a rowdy, blues band type of place so the poetry really caught people off guard & they had books of poetry you could read from and I recall reading some Buk once. It was a fun event.

A funny thing was when I was reading a story and I didn't know I forgot to bring the last page which had maybe a paragraph so I turn the page and start laughing, always had a few drinks before doing this, because I knew, at least that night, there was a different ending.
Well - that's an interesting mix.

Ponder - My expectations are modest. We just want to offer a couple hours a month for writers to read their work, circulate some chapbooks, have fun and a few drinks.

Father Luke - I take it you and Buk are in agreement. :)

Jimmy Snerp - "blip qwerk Jabber jumpwocky qwim blerk riddle" will never be heard from our stage, I promise. But watch out at the bar, as it gets later in the evening.

Buzzcat - Wanna-be comics annoy me too. Also poet/performance artists - like the kind you describe - are usually just tedious. Thankfully the poets participating in our thing are just straight-ahead artists without any stage drama.

slimedog - I can relate to the missing page dilemma. I was up there reading a poem of mine that was going great - I had the timing and inflection together, the crowd was with me, the pacing was perfect - and I came to the final two lines and realized they were on the next page and I could not FUCKING TURN THE PAGE QUICKLY ENOUGH. I just choked, and the timing was thrown off completely and I just wanted to commit suicide. Then 5 minutes later I had a drink and laughed about it.

jmoshea - The open-mic is the second Thursday of every month at a small corner bar called Hotti Biscotti, 3545 W. Fullerton in the Logan Square neighborhood. They have live music Tuesday through Friday. Saturdays are Movie Night, featuring foreign/art/indie films and a potluck dinner (usually Indian/Asian/vegetarian). END OF COMMERCIAL.

Thanks everybody !
Number6horse sounds like a Master of Ceremony. Did anyone else notice that about him?

Recently I've heard the expression "Finding your voice" and I think I hear number6horse's
voice quite well.

Users who are viewing this thread