Featured guest makes Broken Mic appearance


Wil Gibson and Hallowed Down performing for their first time at the Neato Burrito. Gibson has been writing for as long as he can remember but became serious about it in the 90’s | Dayana Morales for The Easterner

By Dayana Morales, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Broken Mic, held every Wednesday night from 6:30-9 p.m. at Neato Burrito at 827 W 1st Ave., is free and open to all ages.

The event has been taking place at Neato Burrito for seven years. They serve one-pound burritos, bowls, and quesadillas to enjoy while listening to the poets. They also have a couple of beers on tap as well.

It is recommended that listeners arrive early, as booths fill up quickly in the small venue.

Participants should be ready to sign up by 6 p.m. with the host Fitz Fitzpatrick, an EWU alumna and performance poet.

Poets are encouraged to read their own poems, but reading another poet’s work is acceptable as well.

The guidelines for Broken Mic are as followed: it is a sacred and safe space in which individuals can say whatever they please; there will be artistic differences; and each author only has three minutes to read.

“We do our best to keep this place as safe as possible, so if you see something, say something,” Fitzpatrick said.

Last Wednesday, Nov. 22, Neato Burrito hosted a full house. The burrito shop was full of laugher and applauses as poets exchanged jokes with each other the whole night.

Thirteen poets signed up to read original poems.

Fitzpatrick opened up the night with a poem by Sylvia Plath.

At the end of the 13 poets there was a featured guest, poet Wil Gibson, and his one-man band, Hollowed Down, on the cello.

Gibson has been writing for as long as he can remember, but it became serious when he was homeless as a teenager in the 90s.  This is how Gibson dealt with everyday life. Gibson is from “all over,” currently living in Humboldt County, California. Gibson was born in northern Illinois, but has lived in Arkansas, Maine, Florida, Oklahoma, Washington and Florida.

Gibson has performed in Spokane in the past, but Wednesday night was his first time at the Neato Burrito.

“The atmosphere was amazing,” said Gibson. “The crowd was so welcoming, there were so many wonderful poets. I heard so many great lines from so many strong people.”

Neato Burrito is an example of the true essence of open mic­—it provides a place for people that may be lost to explore their work and other poets’ work as well.

“Broken Mic is literally the best open mic in the country,” said Fitzpatrick. “We are a cult classic for a reason, emphasis on the cult. You walk in having no idea what’s going on, like why are people screaming in unison. I’ve never seen so many people this enthusiastic about poetry.“

It is a fun environment, but also welcoming and inclusive.

“It’s so much fun, not just with the art, but also the community,” said Fitzpatrick. “It is really easy to join in the fun and then we will keep you forever, you know.”