Columbia’s poetry scene is alive and well. That’s what Richland Library St. Andrews is counting on with their upcoming Open Mic offering Aug. 7
The event is open for to poets, singers and other musicians willing to express themselves or just listen. Light refreshments will be provided.
Henry Henderson, known as Spiryt The TattooPoet, has been a pioneer in the open mic scene for more than a decade. He spearheaded The Session Live, a former weekly open mic event, and now leads the open mic event The Soul Factory.
Henderson, who has competed in poetry events around the world, said he’s seen Columbia’s poetry scene dwindle over the years.
“People are not as aware of poetry on the scale they used to be,” he said. “The scene used to be a lot bigger, mainly because the organizers were the same age as the audience which had the freedom to enjoy the nightlife. Now the organizers were getting older and have brought in no proteges to keep the art growing.”
It’s a beautiful sight to see the poetry scene blowing up like never before right now.
Poet Michael Murray
In addition to the library’s open mic, other events such as Blue Note Poetry — a blend of jazz and poetry lead by poets Michael Murray and Al Black — strive to keep the creativity alive.
Murray, who is also known as The Playlixt, said the city’s scene for poets has improved over the years and welcomed new artists, but it still has a tight-knit feel.
“It’s a beautiful sight to see the poetry scene blowing up like never before. It often times seems to be a poetry family,” Murray said.
However, Murray believes Columbia is still figuring out how to realize the value of its bright wordsmiths.
“If you can muster up the strength to jump on a stage and bare your entire soul to a room full of complete strangers for three minutes, you can literally conquer the world,” he said.
Poet and community organizer Tammaka Staley encourages new artists taking the stage for the first time to dig deep and find what their version of self expression looks like.
“Once a young person figures that out, my advice is to hit every open mic and public event they can to showcase themselves. Network with others who express themselves the same way, and follow through on the connections to see where that expression takes you,” she said.
If you go
Open mic/poetry events
▪ Open Mic. 6-8 p.m. Aug. 7. Richland Library St. Andrews, Brandon LaVar Byrd Meeting Space, 2916 Broad River Road. Free.
▪ Blue Note Poetry. 7:30-10 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month. Next event Aug. 7. Pearlz Oyster Bar, 936 Geruais St. Free. Hosted by The Playlixt & Al Black.
▪ The Writer’s Block Poetry Show. 7-9 p.m. every third Tuesday. Next event Aug. 21. Tapp’s Arts Center, 1644 Main St., Columbia. $7 in advance; $10 at the door. Hosted by The Watering Hole Poetry.
▪ Wet Ink monthly poetry event. Held on the fourth Sunday of every month. Frame of Mind, 104 State St., West Columbia. Free