- Sixth Season (2017-2018):
September 6, 2017: David Janzen
October 4, 2017: Kevin Shaw
November 1, 2017: Joshua Shuster
December 6, 2017: John "David" White
February 7, 2018: Beryl Baigent
March 7, 2018: Blair Trewartha
April 4, 2018: TBA
May 2, 2018: TBA
June 6, 2018: Annick Laura Leontine Macaskill
Many thanks to Kevin Heslop for organizing this fabulous lineup of poets.
These events take place on the rear terrace at Mykonos Restaurant (572 Adelaide Street N)
from 6:30-9:00 p.m. and include twenty minutes of readings by a featured poet followed by roughly an hour of open mic. Admission is by donation (pay what you can).
- Nearly all of the roughly twenty five Londoners with published books have agreed to read at Poetry Open Mic Poetry nights. We are deliberately interspersing the more well-known with the lesser-known poets. Anyone whom we have not contacted, please talk to us at London Open Mic Poetry Night.
- Occasionally we will feature something different than a single published poet. In the past, we had four senior UWO English students read poems they'd written for the occasion. If you have an idea for a special feature, something locally oriented, please feel free to share your suggestion.
- If you have a book to be released during the next two years and would like to feature your work at a London Open Mic event, we'd like to schedule your reading as closely as possible to your book launch. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Several things stood out to me: first, my wife Linda, who is shyer than I was when I started London Open Mic (partly to help rid myself of my own shyness), introduced me with her first-ever stage presentation before any audience ever in her life. Amazingly, she didn't pass out from the stress, or worse. I had been quite worried. Actually, she handled it quite well. And the audience appreciated her for it. Linda had not told me what she was going to say in advance, so when she said nice things about me, like how much affection she has for me, it was moving, not only for the audience. She did make a few factual errors in my bio, but considering that she put it all together from memory years after hearing the stories of my past, she did a pretty good job.
When I finished my reading and the Q&A, I stepped down to take my seat and was shocked by everybody else standing up. At first, I didn't get what was happening and it just seemed odd, until I realized it was a standing ovation! Wow. That felt as good as it was unexpected. It's nice to know that people appreciate and like the open mic that much. Thanks, everyone!
In the open mic section after the break, Martin Hayter surprised me by reading a beautiful poem he called "Stan Burfield". Martin and I have come to know each other pretty good since our days attending Ron Stewart's excellent workshop before I started the open mic. His poem described me so well that it was like looking in a mirror. Better, actually, because as I listened to Martin read it was like seeing a reflection not of how I look but of the real me inside, which, to a shy person, is the only "me" that matters. Thanks for the experience, Martin! Watch Martin read it. (It's the third poem).
See the SLIDE SHOW and SUMMARY for the June 7th open mic.
See the VIDEO playlist: The videos include:
- Featured reading by founder Stan Burfield, with introductions by new co-organizer Kevin Heslop and Linda Burfield, followed by a Q&A, some tributes from audience members (including Poet Laureate Tom Cull, Ola Nowosad, Ron Stewart) as well as some thank-yous from Stan. Stan also read a poem "for Stan Burfield" from Don Gutteridge.
- Open mic readers: Martin Hayter reading his poem called "Stan Burfield", David Stones, Robyn Marie Butt, Chris Mantle, VJ Knutson, Meenal Rajani, Dan Lenart, Janice McDonald, Kelly Creighton, Claire Hutchinson, Paul Branton.
- Watch any one of the videos or all of them.
- Special thanks to volunteer videographer Sebastian Rydzewski. If you or anyone you know can use his videography or IT services, please contact him. Sebastian is trying to increase his client base and anything you can do for him will help to keep him with us. For enquiries: http://www.customprojectslondon.com/ Video describing Sebastian's services.
The climax of my organizing adventure was this astonishing dream:
What an adventure this has been, and so late in my life! Adventure is usually thought of as a young person’s thing, and I certainly indulged myself when I was young. But a life never stops changing, either willingly or unwillingly. So it makes sense that a person should jump into those changes whole-heartedly, making adventures of them.
In my case, I was dealing with lifelong high anxiety, that mainly manifested itself as shyness. My adventure of trying to rid myself of it consisted mostly of physical high-endurance adventures designed simply to make me feel stronger, physically and mentally. They did that, but it had no effect on my anxiety. It was only decades later, in my 60s, that I finally figured out how to tackle it properly: I would have to meet my fears of people head on. The climax of that adventure saw me becoming a social organizer, which was the last thing I would have ever wanted to be. It would either kill me or cure me of my shyness.
I started out by attending Ron Stewart's poetry workshop, and then, lacking a place where I could take that next step further into fear by reading my poems in public, I founded and organized London Open Mic Poetry. Well, it did it's therapeutic job: I survived it and am no longer nearly as shy as I was before these five seasons began.
Half way through, I experienced in a very dramatic way how far I had come--in an astonishing dream. All my life, my nighttime dreams have contained very few people, and those they did contain usually looked weird in some way, not quite human, or just poorly drawn, and anyway seldom represented actual people but were more likely to be symbolic of something else. Then, somewhere in the middle of my years as organizer, I awoke from a dream that was exactly the opposite, and to the ultimate extreme: it was full of people, beautifully real people, all socializing and all enjoying it. I had entered a large restaurant and was slowly walking through it, between tables full of people, all of whom were very detailed in their faces, expressions, their colourful clothes, even in their conversations, which I heard a bit of as I passed each table. There were no empty chairs. And no one in the restaurant was just sitting there bored. Everyone was part of some excited conversation, but each of which was unique, as were all the individuals themselves, as unique as they would be in the real world, excited, interested in each other, many laughing, or just talking, others listening. But the thing is, they were all socializing comfortably, in a healthy way. I was astonished, and walked slowly from one large room into another in the restaurant, each one full, enjoying it all. Until finally I woke up. This had been my subconscious talking to me, demonstrating it’s new attitude. Revelling in people for the first time. And SOOO excited about it. And I was amazed that my dream mind could create so many perfect, live people all populating only a couple minutes of real time. Ever since that morning I’ve enjoyed talking to people--strangers, friends, anybody.
So thank you to everyone who has come to the open mic, and especially to those who have kept coming, despite my many social faux pas (no truly shy person ever learns much in the way of social skills). You are the proofs my fearful subconscious needed, that no one was going to lop off my head each time I opened my mouth. And one thing I’ve learned in this adventure is that the subconscious can’t be argued with. It’s not reasonable. You can’t persuade it with beautiful logic. To the dream mind, logic is water off a duck’s back. The only thing it takes seriously is proof. And not just a bit of proof--lots of it. You open mic readers, you featured poets, you poetry aficionados, you were the proof my subconscious took seriously. Every time I stood on the stage and told a stupid joke that nobody laughed at, or introduced the event so awkwardly that my inner cringe was all I could feel, or simply spoke with such lack of speed and finesse that I felt like a beginner in my own language, you didn’t desert me. Nobody ever got up and stamped out. And you kept returning. That was the proof I needed. And after a couple years of that, I woke to that wonderful dream. So thank you from the bottom of my heart!
In the process, I've gotten to know a lot of people. Before this, I hardly knew, or wanted to know, anybody other than Linda.
And, in the process, I have an open mic to read my poems at.
And I've learned a LOT about poetry that I didn't know before, and become a much better poet myself.
And I've helped a local community of poets to form. All shy people have a dream of community in the back of their minds somewhere, and of being part of one. Well, after five years there is much more of a community here in London than there was before.
Success, and the proof of it!
Early on, I began to fantasize about London Open Mic fostering a poetry community in the city, to the point where I actually told a few people that I would consider us a success, a real success, when I heard of the first person moving here from elsewhere because of the poetry scene, instead of leaving for Toronto. Of course, nobody took me seriously. Someone said, "Good luck with that," and another, "You're kidding," and a couple just laughed.
Well, my idea is that London Open Mic and it's spinoff Couplets are two more big poetry events added to the two already here (Poetry London and London Poetry Slam), which means there are two more reasons for people to keep thinking about poetry, and writing it. If, every time they turn around, they see another poetry thing taking place, how can it not excite them, and once they’re into the idea because so many other people are, it could very well become a local fashion, and then the poetry itself will take over. It only needs to get its toe in.
But somebody moving here because of the poetry scene? Seriously? Well, at the June 7th open mic, after I had finished my Q&A and after Poet Laureate Tom Cull and Ola Nowosad and Ron Stewart and Mykonos-owner Heidi all finished saying a few kind words about me, a lady from the audience, Robyn Marie Butt, who has been driving in from Woodstock for some time now to read at the open mic, got up and said, "...I'm one! I'm planning to move to London and actually it's entirely because of the atmosphere and the culture of this event!"
YEAH!! SUCCESS!! And much laughter and smiles and happiness and peace. And all the other good things that come in the end.