Ideally, an open mic is a catch-all for a community's voices. It's a forum, a stage, a place where one could visit to hear a wide range of opinions.
The diversity on stage isn't guaranteed, however, and the most open of mics can't be inclusive if the community doesn't know about that stage.
The problem between diversity and awareness led one area poet to ask a crucial question: Are Black voices being heard enough in Colorado Springs?
Christopher "Beas J" Beasley, who sits on the board of Hear Here Poetry, doesn't think so and he took the initiative to create an open mic to specifically cater to the Black community.
This week's event (Click here for details | Cover: $5 ($3 with a student ID)) coincides with Black History Month and Beasley said he hopes it helps spread the word in town that the Hear Here stage is an active outlet. We sat down with Beasley to discuss this major event.
What led you to organize the Black Voices open mic?
I feel there aren't enough black voices in Colorado Springs coming together and sharing their stories. I hope we can start a conversation within the black community to find out what's happening in our neighborhoods, the education system, and local government.
The event seems to be gaining momentum on social media, are you expecting a good size crowd? Any special guests?
It feels great to have a good social media response. I would really love to have a big crowd and get people inspired to want to come to some more Hear Here events and have a more diverse crowd.
We're going to have featured performances by some of the strongest Black poets and artists in the region followed by the open mic. Everyone is welcome to attend, but the mic will be reserved for Black poets and performers.
We'll also have Roll Up Food Truck on site for dinner.
You said Black voices aren't being heard in Colorado Springs, what do you mean by that and how do we address that issue?
I don't think Black voices are heard in Colorado Springs at least not in the poetry community and i think that's because a lot of people still don't know about Hear Here.
I bet there are poets out in the city writing and don't know where to go with their talent. I just want to reach as many people as possible with this event.
How does poetry play a role in the Black community?
Poetry is art, it's self expression, an outlet for creativity and we as a community have a lot to say.