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Many people think Open Mics only apply to comedy and musicians, but all across the country – in your local coffee shops, bookstores, art centers, and even churches – if you look, you will find a Spoken Word Poetry Open Mic. You are sure to find monthly and even weekly Open Mics.

Latanya DeVaughn Brain Damage Image
(photo credit: Latanya DeVaughn of Full Circle Ensemble NYC)

I’ve been going to Open Mics for some time now and noticed these events bring out writers of all genres: fiction, memoir, poetry, spoken word, and more. I’ve even seen crossover artists, but for the most part, it’s been strictly the written word.

Because of the popularity of Spoken Word Poetry, Curators are creating Open Mic series‘ that are strictly for Spoken Word Poetry. At these events, I’ve seen as many as 20 readers and over 75 people in the audience — which is fantastic! Imagine 75 people decided to get off their couches and come out to share their stories. And to listen to other people share and read their own poetry. That’s AWESOME to me!

For the most part, I’ve witnessed great artists who come out to Spoken Word Poetry Open Mics — they come on time, read within the 3-5 minute time limit, and make an effort not to say or do anything too inappropriate. But, you must remember an important factor of what the Open Mic is all about. Open Mic is a way for people to recite, perform and/or act out their particular piece of art. It is a way of expressing oneself and using one’s freedom of speech — the freedom of expression.

Because of some of the things that I have noticed at various Open Mics recently and over the years (and since the time I first published this article in 2009), I’ve taken it upon myself to give my opinion of some of the positives and negatives that I’ve seen at these Open Mics. Think of this revised article as Open Mic Etiquette. But I’ll just call it Spoken Word Poetry Open Mic Dos & Don’ts (being that this site is about Spoken Word Poetry). Remember: this is just my opinion as a spectator. Nothing that I say here is the law.

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