In Praise of Open Mics

When I was 18 years old and a freshman at West Chester University, I desperately wanted to become a writer, and I was fortunate to find a local literary community. Every Wednesday, I attended the open mic night at Fernarrio Coffee Shop, which provided a space for me to share my work with an audience that gave me helpful feedback, long before I had a clue how to craft a decent extended metaphor and where to break a line. This series was especially unique because it featured jazz musicians, Bob Dylan wannabes, and poets all sharing the stage. The first time I took the stage, I read too fast, stumbled over a few lines, and griped the paper until it wrinkled, but the more I did it, the easier it became. For four years, even after I took a bunch of creative writing classes, I continued attending local open mics. They made me confident in my work and eventually prepared me for doing my own featured readings.

Recently, some open mics have started in northeastern, PA. One occurs the last Wednesday of every month at the Library Express at the Steamtown Mall. It starts at 6:30 p.m., and so far, we’ve had a nice mix of college and high school students. I hope they continue attending as a way to revise their work and gain confidence.

The other open mic I know of takes place the third Friday of every month at ArtSeen Gallery in Wilkes-Barre. It begins at 8 p.m.

If you are just starting out, or even if you’re a polished writer, attend the open mics in your community as a way to share your work and support other writers. If you know of a local open mic, please spread the word.

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