Thursday, December 30, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
An Open Mic is the opportunity for various writers attending a particular reading to present a glimpse of their own work to the audience. Open Mic settings serve as an opportunity to establish unity (through a shared spotlight) at any literary event; many groups get together for strictly Open Mic sessions, without a featured reader to follow. There are two goals accomplished at any successful Open Mic: 1) the writer makes his or her work accessible to a larger audience than they may be used to, simultaneously familiarizing him or herself with the sound of his or her own work, and 2) the audience experiences and enjoys work other than its own. It’s a presentation of diversity, of accessibility, and connection.
WHAT IS OPEN MIC ETIQUETTE?
Yes, it exists. There are a few guidelines that most Open Mic readers adhere to, even though different events vary in tone, atmosphere, and subject. Here are a few that I’ve noticed over the past couple years, traveling from one reading to the next, each involving both student writers and published authors:
1) Absolutely, positively, completely obey the time limit. The Open Mic sessions for CSWRS allow 3-5 minutes per reader, and it is strongly recommended that each writer reads his or her piece aloud at home, timed, before participating. I remember going to an Open Mic as a high school student in Bellingham, Washington, with a recently sparked interest in poetry; I occasionally went over the time limit because the audience was polite enough to let me. I didn’t realize until later that it was just too awkward to pull me off my soapbox, and that, in fact, everyone wanted to be given an equal amount of time. Even if your piece is well-written and intriguing, an Open Mic may not be the place to present it in its entirety. Read excerpts from prose and a limited number of poems.
2) Typical form for an Open Mic is a brief introduction (Hi, my name is Abby E. Murray, and I’m a writing instructor at the community college”), followed by the title of the piece (“I’d like to read a poem tonight called 'Me and Coyote'") and its content. Let the prose or poetry speak for itself; don’t tell us what it’s about, whether it’s good or bad, or how much you struggled with it. Don’t tell the audience if you’re terrified or embarrassed, and avoid giving the impression that you don’t care or don’t want to be there. If you read your piece at home before attending and it’s not quite ready to “speak for itself”, it may be that you need to wait to present it until you’ve done more revision. If you attend simply to watch and enjoy the work of others, don’t feel intimidated to read. If you do read, simply say “Thank you” when you’ve finished to signal that you’re done, and smile—appreciate an audience that wants to applaud. Don’t linger, but don’t run from the podium before you’ve finished either.
3) Be aware of your body. Avoid pacing, fidgeting, or mumbling. Also, be aware of what you can’t control; if you blush a bright red when you read, so be it. Sweat a little? Fine. Most writers are anxious in some way about presenting their work to a crowd. Remember to focus on the piece itself, not a nervous habit.
4) Consider the content of your work and the setting for the Open Mic you’re attending. For example, if you’re attending a reading where the featured reader is an author of humorous poetry, it might be more interesting to apply that knowledge while you search for possible pieces to read, honing in on pieces that showcase your own unique humor in writing. If you’re attending an Open Mic at a religious university, consider what the host/hostess and audience may not be interested in; showing up to read some graphic erotica at such a setting might make everyone unnecessarily uncomfortable. (I say “unnecessarily” because, ultimately, good writing makes us all a little uncomfortable—enough for us to think in a way we aren’t used to. However, most writers and readers don’t relish humiliation.) Look into the venue, check out the group’s history; in other words, do your research.
5) Show humility but don’t laugh at yourself. This is a personal preference of mine that I think more writers should embrace. Every writer is a lifelong student, continually absorbing new techniques and a fresh perspective. Enjoy this process and take in the reading with an open mind. An Open Mic is not a workshop. It is sometimes difficult to know where to fall, between a healthy grasp of humility and a detrimental sense of self-doubt. I tell my students when they present their work to “be confident, not proud.” Enjoy what you do.
6) Lastly, show appreciation for each other. If a reader’s piece captured your imagination, let them know afterward. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy the community.
Friday, October 22, 2010
If you missed this reading, Laura's book will still be available for purchase at November's reading for $10, and I recommend it-- it's a beautiful book printed by Finishing Line Press, and Laura's poems on the passage from life to death are rooted in the dedication to her father, David H. Feldman, M.D., who passed away in 2007.
(A funny little story? Because Laura is a private practice family practitioner herself, Natalie (owner of Black Cat) had several calls during the past month asking, "Is my doctor really reading at your store? Can I come?") The turnout of local writers, readers, and students was great, and we all enjoyed hearing the work of a poet so closely tied to the community.
Remember, November's featured reader is Aaron Anstett, previous Poet Laureate for the Pikes Peak Region. Be there or be square... or something. November 19th, 7:30pm, at Black Cat in Manitou (720 Manitou Avenue).
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Tomorrow night (Friday, October 15) at 7:30pm, I'll be hosting this month's reading, featuring Laura Feldman as our guest author. Same place as last time: Black Cat Books (720 Manitou Avenue), and there will be books for sale afterward and during the intermission.
Tell your writing buddies. Tell your students. Tell your cats, and I'll see you there.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I'm including a link to purchasing her book here, if you'd like to buy it. (Hopefully the link works!) Remember, we have books for sale at these readings to support these authors.
I'll see you October 15th (7:30pm, 720 Manitou Avenue) for our next reading!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Jenn Koiter, poet, behind the podium-disguised-as-music-stand.
The crowd, which, although cozy, enjoyed the browsing, the wine, and the intimacy that Black Cat Books provides. Thank you, Natalie! We support our indy bookshops!
Tim Christian, who, as usual, delights us during Open Mic with his fiction.
Hopefully I'll see you as well as more new faces next month! This reading was a total success, in my book, and I can't wait for what happens next.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Cicily Janus reading from The New Face of Jazz
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Debbie Allen's work: www.writingwhilethericeboils.blogspot.com
Angela Giles Klocke's work: www.angelagilesklocke.com
Sue Spengler's work: www.suesun40.blogspot.com
(my poetry can be found at: www.abbyemurray.com)
If anyone else has a writing blog they'd like me to post, let me know. Leave a comment or send me an email. Remember, next month's reading is cancelled due to my traveling out of state (I'm sure I'll post some exciting news about the writers gathering at Pacific University's MFA readings, though.) Our next reading is scheduled for FRIDAY, JULY 16th, at 7:30pm.
Oh! One more thing I thought you poets might enjoy. I met with Sharon Cumberland while I was in Seattle last week (her poetry is intelligent and graceful, I love it) and she showed me a neat compilation of poetry she's been teaching in her writing classes at Seattle University. It's called Story Hour: Contemporary Narratives By American Poets, and I highly recommend it. (That's the link to Story Line Press, where you can most easily purchase a copy.) The first poem Sharon pointed out was Linda McCarriston's "Le Coursier de Jeanne D'Arc," and it was stunning. No other word for it.
Okay, on to the pictures. Thanks for reading, everyone!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Thanks to those of you who came to this past Friday's reading. I really enjoyed meeting most of you, and what a great sample of new work during open mic, plus Jessy Randall's poetry, which kept us all smiling. A great time had by all, I say!
Those who would like to purchase one of Jessy Randall's books, come to the next reading and I'll have a couple available then too. Just a reminder: the next reading is Friday, July 16th, at 7:30pm. The featured reader will be announced later. For more updates, you can also look at the Inner Space website at www.downtowninnerspace.com.
Anyway, this is just a brief update to let you know that I'm going to post those new blogs added to the blog sign up when I return to Colorado Springs next week. (I flew out to Seattle the morning after the reading.) I'll also be putting up some pictures from the reading as well. So stay tuned!
And how, for the love of Mike, did I not think to use that enormous gong to get things started at the first reading?! I think that's a great way to get our minds going and ears buzzing!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
(REMINDER: NEXT READING IS MAY 21, 2010, AT 7:30PM. Location still TBD.)
Thanks so much to everyone who attended last night's reading at Inner Space. What a success! The venue, although not wine-and-beverage-friendly, was cozy and beautiful and had great sound. The open mic readers were sharing some fantastic bits of writing, and Deidre Schoolcraft's novel excerpt was, as promised, right to the point; it kept everyone listening for more.
I'm going to post some pictures, but first I wanted to list the writers' blogs left on the sign up sheet. These are the addresses where you can find more creative work by authors attending last night's reading:
Debbie Allen's work can be found at:
Angela Giles Klocke's work can be found at:
My own work can be found at:
Also, thanks to those who bought a copy of my book, Me and Coyote. If you're still interested, leave a comment with your email address and I'll get in touch with you. I still have seventy-six copies in my dining room, and they all need homes!
Now, for some pictures!
Deidre Schoolcraft, our featured reader and author of Migratory Birds.
And a more artistic shot: here we have Audrey Birkett, composition and Shakespeare instructor, explaining the finer points of Tibetan art to the strange stuffed Emu that lives in the Inner Space studio.
Thanks again everybody! I'll be posting more updates soon...
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I am so excited to be getting this reading series off the ground, and I'm glad you've shown up to participate.
As of today, I've penciled in the premier reading for Friday, March 12th, at 7:30pm. These readings will always take place at Inner Space, a beautiful room most often used as a yoga studio in downtown Colorado Springs. Check out Inner Space online here.
I will post more information soon with details, including who the featured reader will be, how long we'll allow for open mic, and what to expect in general.
Until then, thanks!