• John Dempster

Open Mic night


We had a great Open Mic session at the Glen Mhor on Tuesday night, when about fifteen people read poetry and prose. There was a poignant, atmospheric ghost story. We listened in on a conversation between a Mountain Rescue co-ordinator and a helpless traveller stranded at the summit, it transpired, of a large hill in Corstorphine, desperate for a fish supper, but ‘no pickled onion.’

We heard all the tensions of life in Warsaw in the Communist era crackling in a conversation between a mother and her daughter. And in an autobiographical account, we watched a new wife taken to West Africa coming to terms with social expectations, and facing the challenge of cooking a goat.

And there were poems: seagulls Mackenzie and Dewdrop set the agenda in their tyrannical rule over of household overlooking Inverness Castle; we heard deep, incisive lines about motherhood; humorous exchanges with a young daughter; we explored the power of prayer to draw a community together. We listened to a surreal evocation of the joys of love, shattered as the lovers were ‘drowned in the practicalities of earth.’ There was a description of a gruesome Aberdeen University custom involving students giving each other a pasting with offal – I loved the line about the ‘slip and slither of brains.’ We watched a poet searching for rhymes for ‘Putin’, heard a passionate polemic about inequality, infused with both love and indignation.

These are just my most vivid memories of the evening, which included much else. But it gives a flavour of the wide range of work we were privileged to listen to. Writers I spoke to told me how helpful it was to be able to ‘try things out’ in public to see what refinements were necessary. But above all, they appreciated the atmosphere, the opportunity to meet other people passionate about words, and to draw on the creative energy which was buzzing in that wee room beside the River Ness.

It was a very worthwhile evening – and we plan another Open Mic night in June. Whether you are a published writer, a writer not yet published, or just someone who enjoys hearing creative people read their work, do come along.


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