Poetry Open Mic

First posted on December 2, 2017
My usual Wednesday night is whatever the arts centre puts on but tonight’s performance had been canceled due to injury.

The Norwich Poetry Collective have been on my radar for a little while. They host an open mic every other month (soon to be monthly) at the Bird Cage.

The audience skewed female, with a mix of student-types and middle aged folks. There seems to be a core group of regulars but I was told I wasn’t not the only new face here tonight. I got in early so have a seat by a wall. Perfect for invisibility. I find my note taking makes me less noticable and lessens my self consciousness. I often get odd looks when writing in other settings but here there were several working on their crafts.

An organiser arrives, apologising for the late set up as she has only just finished work. Implying the a late start is abnormal.  An hour after the listed start time a host gets on stage to welcome us. I’ve finished my lemonade. He announces plans for a publication and that the open mic is going to happen more often. It’s clearly popular with 40 odd people squished together in the room.

Poerty is another art form I know little about. I know I like word-play and absurdist stuff over flowery language.

The first performer, Patrick Widdess, made me smile with a short poem about cycling “Murder going uphill, RedRum going down” but kinda alienated me with a longer one about poets reading their work off their phones. His paper was fine to use but “Phones are for talking; not the spoken word.” A cute line but just got an eye roll from this technosexual youth.

The first round showed me that I couldn’t really take notes about lines I liked so put my pen away to listen properly, that’s why there are quotes for any other the other acts. Of those I saw Sophie Essex stood out to me with her nerves and her tiny personal poems. She ran them together with barely a pause for breath between them and I liked that. Combined they only made a couple of minutes, even with moments to explain concepts like platinum lesbian -imagine a goldstar lesbian but even more restrictive and more space for elitism.

Yes or no?

For me the most interesting thing said on stage was a warning about how posting your poems on facebook would put them in the public domain and therefore make them ineligible for most poetry competitions.

I like a few poets. I really like Tim Key. John Cooper Clarke (obviously) and that Luke Wright one is ok. I saw Ross Sutherland live last year. That was a brilliant mix of spoken word & found footage... but I guess I don’t like these ones as much. I left during the drinks break.

Attending was about trying new things. I tried. I confirmed my suspicions that this wasn’t for me. Also, the Bird Cage ran out of hot chocolate the day before so my night was ruined before it started. It was cold and I didn’t really want to cool my insides with more than one refrigerated lemonade.