The gathering together of poets, writers and songwriters for the purposes of sharing their latest work has a long and distinguished tradition worldwide. In Ireland poets wandered from one kingdom to another for a living, reciting long poems for the entertainment of Courts and Chieftains. Along with this, the tradition of bothanaìocht or visiting neighbours houses and sharing stories, conversation and song is equally a means whereby all kinds of knowledge, tradition and culture was transmitted, as well as a large helping of tall tales and gross exaggerations that only added to the entertainment and memorable quality of any evening spent in the company of talented storytellers and artists. This tradition has evolved in Ireland to soirees, evening gatherings, and the tradition of the open mic, whereby every artist and writer has a limited time to recite their work to their peers.
Ireland is replete with open mics of various flavours and styles. Some are bizarrely supported by government funding (completely unnecessary as writers/artists are natrually drawn together to share their work). some are incredibly elitist and self congratulatory (dangerous and delusional as invariably such exclusivity will kill off the open mic). Some are literally open – mics, in other words welcome all types – the good, the brilliant, the bad, the new and the seasoned. This is the optimum arrangement for an open mic, and if they are run by a firm and kindly Master or Mistress of ceremonies, then it stands a good chance of surviving. One final thing – its not a good idea to involve money in open mics, unless its for renting a room. Even then better to find a pub somewhere or someone’s house rather than involve money. There are lots of places delighted to give out rooms for free in exchange for having customers for their cafes or bars. Money and open mics really dont mix. I tried it once. It doesnt work.
Tips for running an open mic.
*if you are the MC – be in charge.
*Allow regular breaks for discussion and socializing.
*No heckling allowed.
*Ensure a relaxed open atmosphere.
*Ensure beverages and wine are available.