How to Read at an Open Mic, by Susan Jordan

How to read at an open mic

When it’s your turn to read
make quite sure you’re still muted.
People like to watch you mouthing.

Spend most of your time
shuffling through your papers, saying,
‘I’m sure I’ve got it somewhere.’

Give a long, rambling introduction
about how your father used to go fishing
only this poem isn’t about that.

Keep your head down over your copy
or hunch up, squinting at your phone.
At all costs avoid facing the camera.

Ideally, print your poems
on the back of private documents
and hold them up in front of your face –

bills and bank statements are ideal.
That way you’ll keep the audience’s interest
and get lots of comments in the chat.

Read in a poetry voice that goes up
wherever you’d expect it to go down.
Draw out the last syllable of each line.

If you read a second poem,
say, ‘I’ve only just written this
and haven’t managed to revise it yet.’

Before you finish, do apologise –
if you haven’t done so already –
for not having written your poems better.

Sit staring vacantly afterwards
so people don’t know if you’re done
then forget to mute your coughs and slurps of tea.


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