Reading your own poems out loud to a room full of strangers might sound terrifying. Having done it a few times myself, I can confirm that it is. But with the number of poetry open mic nights in Scotland increasing, sometimes eclipsing their musical cousins, there must be a reason why so many people put themselves through it. So if you’ve penned a few verses and are considering taking the plunge, what should you look out for?
‘Open mic attendees are probably the most open-minded folks you could ever hope to meet,’ says Claire Askew, fellow open mic veteran and now Shore Poet, who blogs poetry advice at OneNightStanzas.com.
Harry Giles, a spoken word performer and one of the organisers of Edinburgh’s Inky Fingers open mic, agrees. ‘Open mics are usually supportive, encouraging places to be. Like many writers, I’m not the best at fitting into communities, but the spoken word community really welcomed me when I first started six or seven years ago, right from the get-go.’
Supportive and open-minded your audience may well be, but that’s probably not going to calm your pre-performance jitters completely. So how should you prepare to read poems that have barely seen light beyond the underside of your mattress, let alone a pub filled with expectant poetry fans?