This week, I wanted to talk about open mic poetry, which Merriam-Webster defines as “an event in which amateurs may perform, usually without auditioning first.”
Open mic nights are staged in all types of places: restaurants, bars, coffee shops, art galleries, etc. I’ve attended one held in a back yard of someone’s home. All levels of talent, from first timers to professional artists, use the time to hone their craft. At an open mic, there will be a host, whose primary responsibility is to maintain the energy in the room, manage time and introduce the poets and other artists to the stage. During the open mic, an artist can be limited by time or number of poems they can perform. Another aspect of the evening is the featured performer, who is allotted more time to perform. This person is chosen by the venue host or producer based on their ability to captivate any crowd. I live and perform between Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC and this area is the envy of poets across the country because of the number of open mic venues hosted here.
This leads me into this week’s featured artist and poem, Lauren Bullock. From her biography, Lauren is a multi-racial writer, performer, and community organizer. She has competed in several National Poetry Slams, Southern Fried Poetry Slams, and has appeared on multiple final stages for the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). As a founding and three-time member of the University of North Carolina’s slam team, the former Artistic and Executive Director of Wordsmiths (UNC’s first-ever organizational board dedicated to poetry and slam), and Future Corps mentor for international youth poetry festival Brave New Voices, Lauren is committed to supporting the young voices of her generation and those after. Currently she serves as a contributing staff writer for the nerd culture web site Black Nerd Problems as well as poetry editor for literary magazine FreezeRay Poetry.
This week’s poem is called “An Open Letter From Harley Quinn to The Joker” recorded at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational in 2012. This video was recorded by a friend in the audience so crowd reaction is heard. **Warning: The video below has themes of domestic violence.**
Lauren is also a host at Busboys and Poets, a restaurant chain in Washington, DC, that hosts open mic nights. For events in your area, search the internet for more information. Open mic events vary; don’t expect it to be like the movie Love Jones, attend more than one to find a space that works for you.