Santa Fe Trails’ poetry open-mic night at Teatro Paraguas Studio and Nickel Stories, a prose-only open-mic event, at Op.Cit. Books.
Writers usually compose their words in solitude, but writing is meant to be read — or heard — by others, so open-mic events make for a great way to test out new work and get a reaction. Open mics, however, can be a chaotic mixed bag for serious artists and those who are new to reading in public, since they are often held in cafés where lattes are steamed in the background, and poetry, prose, music, and sometimes stand-up comedy are all directed at the same audience. There are two recurring open-mic nights in Santa Fe that prioritize the comfort of writers and the attention spans of the crowd: Elizabeth and James Raby of Santa Fe Poetry Trails host a poetry open mic at Teatro Paraguas Studio (3205 Calle Marie) the first Monday of every month. A prose open mic, called Nickel Stories, is held at Op.Cit. Books (500 Montezuma Ave.) on the second Thursday of each month, emceed by Ken McPherson and Meg Tuite. Santa Fe Poetry Trails started its event in 2004 at the Center for Contemporary Arts; it was then held in cafés for many years before moving to Teatro Paraguas in 2014. Nickel Stories is an offshoot of Dime Stories, an Albuquerque open-mic event that was adapted and introduced in Santa Fe a few years ago because organizers wanted to offer a prose-only venue in a literary scene known primarily for poetry. The next Santa Fe Poetry Trails open mic is Monday, July 6, and Nickel Stories is Thursday, July 9. Both begin with a first-come, first-served sign-up at 6 p.m. Each attracts an average of about 20 readers. At Teatro Paraguas, participants can read however many poems they can fit into three minutes; at Op.Cit., readers have a five-minute time limit. For information on Santa Fe Poetry Trails, call 505-424-1601. Call 505-428-0321 for information on Nickel Stories. — Jennifer Levin