The Raleigh, North Carolina area is saturated in open mics. Saturated! You can find an open mic nearly every night of the week somewhere in the Triangle for poetry, fiction, or music. The first open mic I went to was in 2009 at Storyteller’s Bookshop in Wake Forest. Since then I’ve done nearly the entire Triangle open mic circuit: Amplified Voices (before it ended earlier this year) and Amplified Art (before it ended) in downtown Raleigh, Open Eye Cafe in Carrboro, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, Lazy Lion in Fuquay-Varina, Gather Cafe in Cary, Straw Valley Cafe in Durham, Royal Bean in Raleigh (before it closed earlier this year)…
…needless to say I am pretty familiar with what is routinely available in the greater-Raleigh writing community! As referenced in the parenthetical notes above, several open mics have ceased recently. A few of the open mics above have resurrected in new venues, but myself and the other organizers of Living Poetry wanted to step in and fill the partial void in the changing poetry open mic scene. Instead of holding regular open mics like the ones above, we decided to try out new venues on new dates to not only offer something new to open mic veterans, but to attract new voices.
Happy to share that tomorrow Tuesday, October 7th at 7PM I will host a special poetry open mic at Johnny’s Gone Fishing in Carrboro. Our featured reader is fellow Living Poetry Co-Organizer Bartholomew Barker and the open mic list is open to the public. More event details here.
From my experience attending and organizing open mics I wanted to share a few tips to help others when planning these events:
- Visit venues. This may seem obvious, but I have organized out-of-town events sight unseen. Although I’ve lucked out, it is best to visit a few spaces and get a feel for how the open mic will fit into the space. Separate room available so as not to disturb other cafe patrons? PA system in place? Adequate seating? Don’t limit yourself to the physical presence. Check out the venues’ respective social media presences. Dead Twitter account? Super active Instagram? The manager at Johnny’s where we have the event tomorrow night is accommodating and gracious in promoting the event with their large Facebook audience and e-newsletter list. It’s a big help!
- Attend other open mics. You may see an open mic format that works well, or get a feel for what time limits keep the audience engaged, and notice details that you may want to exclude from your open mic format. Want to cap the reader list? Should poets be limited by time or by number of poems? By attending other events you will also get a feel for what locations are popular and why. Maybe parking is an issue in some areas and you can promote how easy parking is at your selected location.
- Check calendars. With so many open mics in our area of North Carolina it is difficult to plan an event that doesn’t conflict with another. Figure out what nights are ‘taken’ so that your potential for attendance is at its fullest. In our area, there is a poetry festival coming up next weekend, then the holidays in November/December, then our poetry group’s anniversary party, so we wanted to squeeze our special event in now in early October for those that may be tied up in the other events to come.
Special thanks to Carrboro poet Ricky Garni for recommending Johnny’s Gone Fishing as an open mic space. 🙂