My first idea wasto use the mic when the open mic was over for poetry-related comments and ideas. People could come up and express themselves, and others could respond to their ideas. And so on. In the process we would get to know each other.
But as the first event drew closer, it occured to me that everyone may just sit there staring at the mic, and then get up and go home.
I couldn’t solve this problem, so I presented it to our group at one of our first meetings, along with another one I was trying to solve which was what to do about the disappointed people who wanted to read at the open mic but who weren’t selected. Do they have to go home frustrated?
It was only seconds after I finished talking that Elliot Sapp said, “table readings”. He solved both problems with one little stroke of genius, getting the idea from a technique used in producing stage plays. When actors are beginning a new play, they sit around a table reading the script together, in a ‘table reading’. In those few seconds, it had occured to Elliot that everyone at the open mic could sit in small table groups, read their poems to each other, discuss them, and thereby get to know each other, as well as go home having read their poems. Better yet, having discussed them as well.
Well, a lot of people tried it during the first event, but the second and third weren’t as successful. We’ve been trying to figure out why. Well, the table readings were at the end of the event, so some took advantage of the lull after the open mic to go home a bit early. Wednesday is in the middle of the work week. Others liked the idea of the featured reader and the open mic but maybe didn’t want to take part in something that sounded more intimate, and which they weren’t familiar with. Others came just for the featured poet. And yet others, after concentrating on so may poems for so long, just wanted to relax and not be told what to do. Enough rules and social pressure. That would probably be me, if I wasn’t the organizer. And therefore officially excited about it.
So here’s our new thing: After the open mic, we’re just going to hang around and talk poetry with each other. Converse. Relax. Have fun. And if anyone wants to read a poem to the people at their table, for discussion or not, they can, providing the others agree to listen to it.