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Mike Murphy hosts the virtual open mic at SOMOS the second Monday of every month. 'It is a place you can be vulnerable, and experience supportive feedback,' he says.

An open microphone or "open mic" is an invitation to share a poem, monologue, music or a chapter of your latest work with an audience. It is an event that happens everywhere. Prague, Paris, Dublin, Des Moines - and your own hometown.

On a good night, it is a creative incubator that encourages new work, old work and fosters community. If you've been working on something in quarantine, now may be the time to let it see "the light of day." Fortune favors the bold and the first step is the most important, they say.

The Muse of the Society of the Southwest, at 108 Civic Plaza Drive, hosts salons, workshops and an open mic on the second Monday of the month for creatives in the community to hone their craft in a supportive environment. Now the event is via Zoom.

Executive director Jan Smith said, "The open mic in Taos evolved from one of our members, Ron Stock, who started it three years ago. Ron lives in Mexico during the winters and two years ago asked Mike Murphy, a regular attendee at the open mics, to run them for him. Mike's now been the host every month for over a year."

Murphy is a veteran of open mics, finding his way to Taos from Alaska with his son, in search of some winter sunshine. "This was during the Occupy Movement," he noted, "where I dove into writing 'protest slam poetry' and began getting my feet wet with performing at local open mics. I enjoyed venues such as SOMOS (not bars) where people were there to listen and share on their own. Getting to know other artists, writers, and performers only deepened my appreciation for Taos and led to many valuable friendships and experiences."

He continued, "A good open mic isn't about how many people turn out and share, although that always helps - rather it's about people sharing their work, getting feedback and listening and supporting others doing the same thing. Since going to ZOOM, there have been months where there are only three of us. And they have been 'good' open mics. Fewer people allow for more flexibility in format, where people may take turns, back and forth, sharing material - while talking about process, inspiration and ways to approach and develop material.

"It also provides for more of an opportunity for sharing honest feedback with one another. While being held in-person at SOMOS [pre-coronavirus] there were often over 10 people sharing material and such conversations happened after the event while people mingled.

"The SOMOS open mic," he added, "is a great opportunity for people without experience who want to put themselves out there, often having to overcome and work through fears and anxieties to do so. It is a safe environment where people support and encourage one another.

"It's also a very diverse environment where everyone is free to express their unique styles of creative expression. Those who attend often use the open mic as motivation to continue writing and creating, so they have something new to share each month. Just as often people share older material, which is also fine."

If you're wondering if the open mic is a good fit for you to explore new material, Murphy said you can call him to talk about it at (575) 404-0743.

He emphasized the open mic is a safe place. "It's not like you're sitting in a bar in front of 60 people," he said. "It's SOMOS - people are there to listen and respect each other, to work through their fear, the fear and anxiety common for most creative people getting up in front of people for the first time or every time. It is a place you can be vulnerable, and experience supportive feedback."

To sign up for a SOMOS open mic via Zoom, visit somostaos.org.

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