Poet FlipSide to Perform at Thursday’s Open Mic
By Doug Carroll
He has written poems about anti-smoking, love, hip-hop and domestic violence, even publishing a book of more than 40 of them, called “Fragile: Life Is Poetic.”
He’s known in the Phoenix arts community as FlipSide, and he’s coming to GCU’s Open Mic Night this week to hear and be heard.
“I love to hear other people tell their story,” FlipSide says. “It’s something I wouldn’t ordinarily get. That’s fun for me.”Over the past year, FlipSide has been a regular performer at Infuse, an open mic on First Fridays at the Phoenix Art Museum. The popular event recently was discontinued by the museum, and its engaging host, Lalli, will serve as host at GCU. Open Mic Night is co-sponsored by Herd on Campus and the Poetry Club.
Registration is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, with the show starting at 7 on The Slab behind the Student Union. Student and staff musicians, singers, poets, writers and other artists are encouraged to turn out, bringing one or two works to perform. Admission is free.
FlipSide lives near GCU and is part of a four-person “poetic theatre” group known as Black Poet Ventures, which puts on about five shows a year. The next one will be in June at Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale, a multimedia tribute to jazzman Miles Davis called “Cool Like That.”
A native of southern California who moved to Phoenix more than 10 years ago, FlipSide considers the open-mic scene a way to stay creatively sharp.
“There’s about 12 or 15 of my pieces I regularly practice,” he says, “and I’ll decide which ones work best as an event draws near.”
Open mic, he says, can help even first-time participants overcome their fears when it’s done right. With a we’re-all-in-this-together stage presence, Lalli is practiced at setting out the welcome mat.
“He’s very gifted,” says FlipSide, who has known Lalli for years. “He has this way of reaching all different types of people and getting them all to feel comfortable at the same time.”
Although an open mic is by nature unpredictable, FlipSide says the scene’s regulars cherish the opportunity for self-expression and rarely abuse it. The best ones usually work from memory.
“I want to see the facial reactions (of the audience),” FlipSide says. “That’s more gratifying. When you read from a book, it eliminates the performance aspect. Eye contact keeps people engaged and keeps you in the moment.”
He’s fine with just about anything going on at an open mic. Just don’t ask him to go on first.
“It’s harder,” he says, “when you don’t know what the audience likes or dislikes. Is it humor? Storytelling? But (open mic) is a lot of fun. The best part is people listening without my having to ask them to. People pay attention to something they might not normally.”
For more on Black Poet Ventures, go to www.facebook.com/blackpoetventures.
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.