Open mics in Vienna – a new learning

Yesterday I attended an open mic organised by Write Now, a new association of English-language writers in Vienna that I know through writing friends Ida, Paul and Kirsten. I didn’t know what to expect but was moved by a variety of works presented. I didn’t take notes or photos and so can now speak about things that lingered: the super Café Korb downstairs in the 1st district with its wallpapered books in black and white, the waiter with bowtie who discreetly served drinks, a wonderful poem about Adam and Eve – we know the story, but have you ever thought about the scar when that rib was removed? And was it perhaps a peach, not an apple in the Garden of Eden? Then there was a moving account of another sort of victim of war in the ex-Yugoslavia – riveting, shocking, and courageously told as a story that rang all too true. And finally a slam about women and the games they choose to play or perhaps not.

Tonight was a totally different event. I’m no longer on Facebook, but the invitation came to me by email. Café Potyka in the 2nd district. It took ages to find it, as the official Wiener Linien 6-minute walk from the underground became almost 20. Old writing friends were there – Jean, Daniella. Thanks for the invite. A bit of fun performance from parts of the Grauenfruppe, readings in German, and then a reading in French of Renaud’s Hexagone. I learnt tonight that Renaud, whose songs I remembered, had also worked at Charlie Hebdo. (I’d been asked to participate to have more voices – we were three reading in all, and his text had been explained to the audience.) Sprinkled amongst the readings were texts by other writers, texts read because of their wisdom and relevance to what is happening today. Then a high point: two young street singers sang. Encore. The song of the singers nobody listens to on the streets. I will look out for them. An experimental poem and a more reflective piece by a man who had never read in public. All these pieces were kept to 5 minutes by a wailing alarm that sounded like a petulant child.

OPenMicAt both events, I read a new piece of flash entitled, “Gloria”. At both events, she was well received. But I became aware of something about me. As a lover of process, it’s the actual writing and rendering of the story that matters to me. The applause – it’s weird – but I don’t really hear it. The story is read. It’s over, left to linger or not. I’m someone else. Almost embarrassed. I need to learn to not only accept rejections, something I’m good at, but also to accept the approbation that I think we all seek. Not revel in it, just accept it, with grace. And then, as always since coming to Vienna, onwards!