Posts By: Benjamin Solah

On the mic for the first time: 8 tips for your first open mic performance

So you want to try your hand at open mic spoken word or poetry for the first time and you’re either too nervous or don’t know where to start or have never done it before and are just curious on the best tips/advice to do it without making a fool of yourself?

The good news is that there are always so many more people trying it for the first time and as Hamish Danks Brown says there’s a 100% survival rate for performing, you’re not going to die on stage and will probably want to get up again.

That said, here’s some handy tips for performing on the open mic for the first time or times.

Pick your gigThere are a lot of open mics and places to perform. You could go to a lot of them or you could find your home in one gig. Gigs like Bar Oussou and Passionate Tongues are great for first time performers, there’s gigs that tend to have different styles or create spaces for groups of poets like for women poets or poets of colour, so it’s worth going to a couple to see where you want to settle. Some poets recommend finding your favourite and sticking to it, others say read as widely as possible. But if you go to one and it isn’t quite your cup of tea, the good news is there’s many more to try out instead.Follow the rulesGenerally all gigs have a time limit and a way of signing up to perform. If you don’t know, check with the gig host. It’s a good idea to not go overtime (less is often more) and to respect your audience and the space created. Usually time limits either 3 minutes or 5 minutes. Sometimes there’s a theme or certain types of poems of encouraged or discouraged, you want to check whether your content fits, e.g. some places might not want swearing or adult themed content. Some open mics have limited spots and so it’s a good idea to turn up early or time to get a spot. If in doubt, ask the host.It’s ok to be nervousBeing nervous is normal, even poets that ha

Why open mic is at the heart of the spoken word scene and the heart of the Melbourne Spoken Word and Poetry Festival

Perhaps it’s slight self-interest or perhaps it’s obvious but the opportunity for anyone to sign up and get up on a stage around Melbourne and perform poetry through our city’s network of open mic poetry gigs is at the heart of our poetry scene, and the heart of our Melbourne Spoken Word & Poetry Festival.

After all, it was turning up to Passionate Tongues one wintery Monday night in 2010 that I finally felt I found a home for my words, after feeling discouraged by the submission and rejection game of literary journals, which isn’t to say that that side is worth giving up on, but that sometimes you just want to take part or be heard or start somewhere. But poetry and spoken word is unique not just in the special way it plays with language but the ways in which it brings people together and allows anyone to be heard.

It means it attracts not just people who want to be the audience but want to participate. Whether they have a particular story to tell regardless of who hears it, or if they’re trying out new work in order to refine it. The open mic features the new poets and the established, those doing it for fun or those trying to make a career out of it. You don’t need to be invited or accepted, you just need to show up.

Nowadays at Bar Oussou on Monday nights, sometimes half of the people that stick their hand up to read on stage are doing so for the first time, with host Hamish Danks Brown encouraging them by boasting of their “100% survival rate’ for first time readers. At The P Word Sessions of a Sunday afternoon, you can get established poets like Kevin Pearson coming from around the corner to share some new work and to support the featured poets on show.

You never quite know who’s going to show up, and what new work people have up their sleeve. Often poets shoot up out of nowhere, with an arsenal of poems you’ve never heard before, appearing at open mic a