On Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012, London Open Mic. Poetry was born.
Andreas Gripp--though provided us with no bio, poems, or interview---was the first feature to take the stage and kick-start this tradition.
Here's the story of this evening as told by Stan Burfield:
Andreas Gripp’s reading at the launch of London’s Open Mic Poetry Night in the terrace at Mykonos Restaurant Oct. 3 seemed to have more humour, as well as more profound and deeply interesting moments than I remembered ever hearing from him before. Maybe it was actually the music that preceded him, the vibes and cello of Bernie Koenig and Emma Wise, that made me more open to his poetry, or the cozy Greek atmosphere of the terrace, or the fact that most people had come early for the music and food and wine and were comfortable and ready when Andreas began reading. Or maybe it was just me hoping it would be extra special.
As soon as London’s Town Cryer, Bill Paul, opened the night with his rousing introduction, and I began the proceedings, I was amazed to see the night proceed by itself, despite my numerous flubs. Without having to be pushed or pulled, everybody enthusiastically got right into it and really enjoyed themselves.
The open mic section went smoothly with Dawna Perry picking the names randomly from the pot and calling the poets up to read. Very few went over the allotted five minutes, and the audience obviously enjoyed the variety of poems and readers. Everyone was surprised at the general quality of both the poems and the reading of them.
We did some musical chairs to prepare for the table readings, with people forming larger groups separated from each other for sound buffering. Each group organized itself, self-appointing readers and their sequence and how many poems each read. By 9:30, after three-quarters of an hour, just about everyone who brought poems, of the 47 in attendance, had read and most had read more than they had expected to. People who had not even put their names in the Ballot Bowl for the open mic brought out poems in the general excitement. The room was constantly abuzz with discussion, laughter, and conversation.
At the smallest group, where I spent most of my time, John Tyndall, one of London’s most well-known poets (and our January 3rd reader), happened to be sitting next to our own newby poet Dawna Perry who read from her coil-bound notebook. John made a few suggestions, and Martin Hayter leaned over and remarked to me about how surprisingly good she was. Martin also read to our focussed attention. Neil Desborough and I, the two country gents at the table, (Neil a real one, living on a farm out in the Ingersol area) listened with the reserve and taciturnity we have earned from our long years of toil (or is it shyness, at least on my part), while the hubbub ensued around us.
There were a few “little hiccups” through the night, as Martin was kind enough to call them the next morning when he found me exaggerating every uneven breath in my mind. But now, a couple days later, I’m pretty happy and pumped to go on to #2, with Kathryn Mockler.