Friday, March 16, 2012

Open Mic Nights

This post is slice #16 of 31 for the March Slice of Life Story Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers

This semester the youth poets and I have been hosting open mic nights at our local Barnes and Noble. Performing in a public space would be impossible without the support of my media specialist. He loans us a portable microphone, a sound system really. Two speakers and an amp zipped into a rolling suitcase, speakers stands in long zippered case and a mic stand. The microphone makes all the difference in the store. And having a space in the store to perform, makes all the difference to my poets. We have a fantastic education coordinator at our local Barnes and Noble, Mary Ramsey has given us time and space to bring these students' talents to life. It matters.

Isabella & Diana performing 2 World Hip Hop
Our school poetry slam is about 3 weeks out, so the poets have started to hone the pieces they'll take to our stage. I can't wait to hear how they sound tonight. We don't follow slam rules at the book store. Students can take more than 3 minutes with a piece. Few do.

We also don't score at the bookstore.  If you're new to slam poetry, a slam contest is scored by random judges picked out of the audience. During our school slam, 5 judges will score the poet's pieces from 1-10--10 garnering the poet "rock star" status at school for the remainder of the school year. The lowest score and the highest score are drop, the middle 3 are added up. The poet at the end of the slam with the highest score takes the slam. As we say though, "the point is not the points, the point is the poetry."

Tonight the point will be sharing and showcasing. Often, students in my classes come. I offer extra credit (why not?) and give bonus points if they take a turn at the mic. You should see their courage as they approach the mic.

Last month a poet--a real adult poet--was in the bookstore during our open mic time. She introduced herself and explained that she runs a poetry group for Hispanic writers at the book store once a month. She praised the kids and beamed at their pieces. The student poets soaked it in and I celebrated inside. Yes!

Happy Friday!


  1. Oh, how awesome that they can practice their poetry in front of a real audience before the slam! This is such a great idea for your students!

  2. I would say that your enthusiasm for poetry is infectious and your students are stepping out and doing you proud. You and your poets are awesome!

  3. Wow! What a great opportunity for your students. Talk about authentic learning, it doesn't get more authentic than that. Your students are very brave. They totally deserve extra credit and so do you:)