For the Open Mic

I went to an open mic tonight. That might seem hyp­o­crit­i­cal based on my stan­dard po­si­tion re­gard­ing them, but this one was specif­i­cally for folks un­der 30. It was great. There wasn’t one per­son there whose name any­one who pays at­ten­tion to Cleveland po­etry would rec­og­nize. The po­etry ran the gamut in terms of style & qual­ity and there was no ego present, only hu­mil­ity. I heard bits of a po­etic di­a­logue be­tween an pris­oner & his pen pal, po­ems about be­ing bira­cial, elegies, lyrics, sex­u­ally sug­ges­tive po­ems, and down­right funny ones. It was great. There wasn’t one beat-style poem, and no one talked about d.a. levy or any other old dead white guy po­ets.

To my knowl­edge, I was the only per­son over 30 there. A cou­ple of the folks wanted me to read, but I de­clined. I don’t want to be the old guy in the room that I com­plain about. I’m also try­ing to par­tic­i­pate in po­etry as a lis­tener. There are plenty of mid­dle-class het­ero­sex­ual white cis­male writ­ers, who feel like they need to speak, but have lit­tle unique to say, and lit­tle de­sire to lis­ten to other voices. I don’t want to be that guy. I do won­der if my re­fusal to read was just an­other ex­am­ple of me ex­ert­ing priv­i­lege, and if I should have be­cause I was asked to. I wanted to honor the spirit of the open mic and also be present to lis­ten. I’ve been to plenty of open mics where the au­di­ence is wholly com­posed of “read­ers” who spend their time think­ing about what they’ll read in­stead of lis­ten­ing to the per­son ac­tu­ally read­ing. This one was filled with lis­ten­ers. Poetry 4 Free has been one way for me to re­move my ego from my po­etry prac­tice, lis­ten­ing to un­der-rep­re­sented voices in po­etry is an­other way to re­move a bit of ego as well.

I look for­ward to sit­ting and lis­ten­ing in to more of the un­der-30 open mics. It was great.

6 thoughts on “For the Open Mic

  1. I re­mem­ber when you asked or won­dered out loud on the in­ter­net (prob­a­bly 9 years ago) why there wasn’t, or if there is any twenty some­thing blog­gers out there or some­thing to that ef­fect.

    It’s nice to grow old to­gether in this small in­stance I men­tion here.

  2. Andy, I to­tally feel what you’re say­ing. I’m glad the spaces I couldn’t find a decade ago ex­ist now, and that young folks are find­ing them. Here’s to our age and the promise of new blood.

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