‘Anything that is ‘Open Mic’ runs the risk of the mad, bad or sad of the creative arts taking their moment of glory.’ JESS MIDDLETON-PUGH braves the edgy artists at The Punter for some open mic poetry.
CB1 Poetry, Tuesday, 22nd November, The Punter, £3
Anything that is ‘Open Mic’ runs the risk of the mad, bad or sad of the creative arts taking their moment of glory, but that is part of their charm.
I’ve not really seriously thought about poetry since I did A Level English aeons ago, and so naturally I approached my first Open Mic Poetry Night with trepidation. My reservations became a reality when I arrived and realised I was be the only person below the age of 60 in the room. I was quite possibly the youngest person there.
The first offering was a poem about cheese (slightly grating), and another submission that desperately rhymed ‘rain’ with ‘Spain’ and ‘again.’ I was in pain. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the ‘amateur’ poets, the enjoyment of which was only limited by the fact that the audience seemed unwilling to laugh at the poems that were intentionally funny. Pretension is a regular presence at these kind of events; it imposes itself on attendees like the last lingering drunken fresher at a party. No one really wants it, but people feel like they have to accept it, for fear of committing some kind of social faux pas.
Poetry = good. Though you might want to sneak in your own hip flask.
Headlining acts Tamar Yoseloff and Katy Evans Bush were given such a complimentary introduction that it was no surprise that one of them didn’t quite live up to expectations. Bush hadn’t bothered to prepare a set of any kind, and simply stood up and haphazardly read poems from a copy of her collection that she borrowed from one of the organisers. To me, this seemed lazy and insulting to the people who had paid money to see attend.
Whereas the amateurs’ and Yoseloff’s performances added a depth and dynamism to their poems, Bush’s readings lacked enthusiasm for her own work. Yoseloff’s poetry was really appealing to me, especially considering her consistent topic choice of Jackson Pollock and other New York school Modernists (you can take a girl out of Art History…). Her style was also fun and accessible, and crucially, the poems themselves were not too long or self-indulgent.
The Poetry Night was held in a side room at The Punter, so a good opportunity to grab an (overpriced) drink to ease yourself into a mindset appropriate for literary appreciation.
I enjoyed myself, despite my initial trepidation, and felt like the main thing lacking was more engagement from the student population. The atmosphere was as relaxed as possible for the Open Micers, and a couple of people performed who never had before, which I thought was really encouraging.
More young and enthusiastic poets (there must be some out there?) need to get involved. Why should it all be left to the grown-ups?