It’s a typical week night, and 5 minutes before I go on. My palms are sweaty. My neck feels stiff. My heart is beating out of my chest. All the while my mind visualizes a poetic victory. Anticipation can be a motherfucker. Especially when you’re waiting your turn to spill your guts to a room filled with strangers. Welcome to the open mic; the gateway and connection between the spirits that love language and the spirits who listen to them. These spirits are trapped inside crude flesh like we all are, and like their bodies, their personalities come with many variations. The anxious first timer, the black militant, the voluptuous seductress, the educated and powerful goddess, the cynical and consciously aware comedian, the veteran, the pure lyricist and so on. These are just a few of the characters that await patiently for their turn to bless the mic. There is not an artist alive who does not wish to do well when they are on the mic…

The key to a successful night depends on many obvious truths we know. A poet’s head must be focused on the words and their meaning. The poet’s eyes must dance random on the lenses of the eyes that are watching. The poet’s heart must be in an emotional state that embodies the substance of the words that are spoken. The poet’s hands must be steady and expressive; even if anxiety pumps eagerly through their finger tips. Finally, the poet’s stance must be a proud one. For having the opportunity to share and the guts to do so is a proud moment indeed.

All this being said; the poet is one of three elements to an amazing night of poetry. Many forget that the audience is a living breathing entity. Last week’s audience and next week’s audience are like 2 different people; each with a personality that is unique in its own right. What works for last week’s audience may not work for next week’s audience. It is difficult (but not impossible) for any single poet to gage the pulse of the audience on there own. This brings us to the intangibles position known as “The Host”

Hosts Each have a style that is unique to them. Some styles are effective and some aren’t However, the greats all seem to have the same anatomy in common…


The Head
     The head should be in the game. The mind should be active and engaged to the audience during the open mic, before the open mic and after the open mic. Many hosts seem uninterested in the “Hosting” aspect of being one. Some hold the position of host with arrogance. Putting themselves above the audience and the artists that participate. Many don’t bring any fresh ideas to the table or put any preparation in conceptualizing a show. Great hosts would have nothing to do if there were no audience or talent. So a wise move would be to be a great “steward” of your craft and keep your mind focused on them.
 
The Heart
   Ideally the heart of great host should be in love with the art it is trying to promote. Love it enough to put the time in. Love it enough to share it freely. The heart of a great host doesn’t waist time or energy dealing with jealousy or envy of other artists. The heart of a great host isn’t infallible or unfamiliar to pain or difficult times. The greats have a way of pushing through regardless by getting their audience’s hearts involved by giving a piece of theirs.
 
 
Upper Limbs
     The shoulders off a great host have to be broad because they carry a lot of responsibility. The arms have to be strong hold the position with integrity and that’s not easy. The hands have to be calm, expressive and steady. The have to give firm hand shakes after recruiting fresh talent to the stage. They have to touch audience members with warmth and welcome. They have to do research into their craft, their material and their poets they intend to have on the stage.
 
 
Lower Limbs

     Grass doesn’t get a chance to grow underneath the feet of a great host because their feet are always moving. The legs are always moving forward bringing the culture with it. Being mobile breaths life into the culture. Being mobile looking at other venues, rivals and/or competitors makes the culture lucrative.
 
 
The Belly 
A.K.A. 
“THE GUTS”
     Bottom line: it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there night after night, show after show. It takes guts to reach out to strangers, be a good business person, a great host and an artist all at the same time. There game is full of egos and eclectic individuals who get off on being difficult and unruly. It takes a lot of nerve to want to advance a culture that promotes independent thinking; during these times in which technology is forcing people away from using their brains at all.
 
You are who you are… This blog isn’t “A Shot” at anyone or any style I have come across in my travels. These are simply my opinions. These are just my thoughts…
 
See you next time fam…
 
 
GB