In conversation with Mike Rosen

Some of you may have already heard the good news – Mike Rosen will be coming to Mumbai and performing at the next Words Tell Stories Open Mic!! Woohoo..

While I could regale you with his bio and accomplishments, I thought it would far nicer to get to know him on a more personal level.

I asked him a few questions and here are his responses 🙂

R: What does poetry mean to you?

Mike: Um, everything? No, it’s not that serious – really, it’s just not. Audre Lorde says that poetry is the light through which we see the world, I think that’s certainly true in my case. It’s also the language i use to connect with myself, and through that others as well. It’s a beautiful and necessary tool for generating dialogue and change.

R: How long have you been writing?

Mike: I started collecting pens and notebooks in 4th grade. Eventually i needed to do something with them all so i just started scribbling.

R: What is your creative process?

Mike: I rely on the old fashioned vomit and sift. I spend a lot of time working to create the right environment for generation — meaning i need to spend time taking care of my body and mind in order to feel creative, if i’m stressed i just shut down. I listen to a lot of music, read a lot of poems and talk to people.

R: Who/what inspires you?

Mike: Tough question. I’d say, and i hope this comes off okay in writing, but i’m equally inspired by good art as i am bad art. Sometimes, reading the work of great poets (or friends who have achieved recent success) can be really intimidating for me. Sometimes i have to read some poems i hate just to be like “hey, i need to respond to this.”

I get a lot of lines from music as well.


R: Advice for aspiring performing poets?

Mike: Lose the cadence. Beginner performers seem to think there’s something sexy about the “slam voice,” maybe there was in 1994, but now it’s a caricature and it has always just been a tool to hide bad writing. Speak as yourself, you’re the only one who can.

R: A poetry video or poem you absolutely recommend?

Mike: My favorite poem of all time is “Lines for Winter” by Mark Strand — that’s a paste-it-above-your-desk kind of poem. Bianca Stone’s book was awesome. As for other videos… Oh man, anything by the Dark Noise Collective. They are all talented, but Danez Smith comes to mind first for the way he’s addressing and dismantling current affairs while remaining profoundly poetic. In particular his poems “Not an Elegy for Mike Brown” and “Dinosaurs in the Hood.” Divine Fabrics are wonderful friends and writers. Hanif Abdurraqib is writing some of the most original and touching poems around these days, he’s also bringing light to the world one ice cream review at a time. Hieu Minh Nguyen’s book tore me open. Richard Siken’s first collection “Crush” is a must for anyone who has ever felt emotions. I wish more of my student’s work was online, becuase those kids are flat out amazing, but you can check Hazem Fahmy’s “Trailer.” Caroline Rothstein and Jayson Smith who are doing the damn thing and doing it so bravely.

You asked for one. Woops.



Words Tell Stories is an open mic night for poets and lovers of poetry alike. Each poet will have 5 minutes to perform a piece in English/Hindi. The poems must be original and can involve props or music. There are 20 open mic slots and registration is on the spot so do come early and put your name down.

Mike will be doing a 30-minute feature. The event starts at 7.30 and will take place at iBar in Bandra. Do come along and bring friends and family 🙂

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