Why Poetry Readings Are Better Than a Box of Chocolates

Last night, I was the featured reader at the Danvers Library coffee house and open mic. The turnout was terrific, about 25 people. Yet this was not the typical open mic/spoken word crowd, but local residents—working professionals and retirees—who came out to hear me read from Underlife and share their favorite pieces. My presentation was a mix of conversation and poetry lasting about 30 minutes. But when the open mic started, that's when the real fun began.

Now, I’v gone to readings where the writer gets up, reads, waits for applause, and leaves the venue right after. This crowd was both talented and generous, and not looking for anything more than a little applause. And that’s what I love about the generous nature of words. They have the ability to bring people together to exchange stories and share a little history with one another.

  • There was a woman who wrote a poem about a piece of driftwood that resembled antlers. She brought the driftwood antlers with her to the microphone to show off (who knew there could be a show-and-tell element to an open mic).
  • A couple read a poem they wrote about their long-standing friendship; they read the piece as a dialogue.
  • A gentleman told jokes so bad they were actually pretty good!
  • Another gentleman participated in his first open mic and read a wonderful short story.

I’m guessing about 12 people participated in the open mic portion. It was so spontaneous and casual. Who knows if any of these writers will publish in a journal or collect their work into a manuscript. On this evening, no one was trying to make a name for themselves. It was just a room full of people filling the night with words.


Jessie Carty said…
that sounds like a great evening! my monthly open mike fix is such a treat. we had 15 readers last night with poets reading who ranged in ages 20's to 70's from published in books to not published at all and reading rhyming poetry about everything from god to baking. oh and there was cake so bonus :)
You make me want to start reading again!!

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