Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Open Mic Disasters #3: The iPhone

By Frank Burton

If you’re going to read your poetry from an iPhone at an open mic, please bear in mind you're demonstrating that a piece of paper is better than a hand-held gadget, for the following reasons:

1. With a piece of paper, there’s no uncomfortable pause when you realise you’ve scrolled down too far, or the screen’s frozen, or you get a text message.

2. A piece of paper doesn’t automatically make you look pretentious. The audience usually have to wait until the poet opens his or her mouth to suss that one out.

3. A poem read aloud from an iPhone can only have one possible subtext. It doesn’t matter what the genre is – it could be a heartfelt tribute to a recently departed relative, or a playful John Hegley pastiche about a dog who wears glasses. The subtext is always the same – “Look at me! I’ve got an iPhone!”

4. Unless you charged your phone with a bicycle-powered dynamo, you’re not actually helping the environment.

5. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you’re breaking the first rule of all spoken word events … Turn your fucking phone off!



  1. Amen. I once was booked for a gig for that night when I was on a trip away from home. I read from my laptop. I hated that and probably looked like a complete joke. Does anyone else cram the memo functions of their mobiles with scraps of phrases that you think you'll use, only to find them months later whilst you're upgrading?

  2. I'm a bit of a Luddite, so I do the same thing with paper notebooks. It's good to hear technology doesn't neccessarily make people less organised! (I appreciate the irony of me writing this in a blog post rather than with a feather and parchment.)

  3. I was once at an open mic and a rather unhinged reader brought in his poem (as memory serves it was a curse... an actual curse) and it was hand written on dubiously sourced skin. That's my lowest lo-tech experience, and the only time I ever felt scared at a poetry reading.

  4. Sounds pretty terrifying.

    My favourite "Luddite at an open mic" experience was at a literary event in a pub with very bad accoustics, where the poet refused to use the microphone, and proceeded to recite his poems in a very quiet voice. People gave up shouting "Pardon?" after a while.