Santa Clara County's new and unconventional poet laureate

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Mighty Mike McGee dropped out of college and complains about high school poetry lessons, but he is now Santa Clara County's new poet laureate. (KGO)

Santa Clara County's new poet laureate is not what you would expect from a typical poet.

First, he goes by the name of Mighty Mike McGee.

He does not come from the world of academia. He didn't get a writing or English degree. He didn't even finish community college.

He got into poetry in his early 20s in an unconventional way.

"I got in through the kitchen window to poetry by showing up at cafes and bars and doing very loud, very fast poetry for people who were probably not sober," said Mike McGee, who grew up in the South Bay.

He has not stopped being loud. McGee is not shy about touching on subjects that make people uncomfortable or using profanity in his poetry.

"People heckled me because they didn't agree with the things I was saying. But that is the beauty of spoken word. There's that possibility for conflict. There is that possibility for conversation," he said.

VIDEO: Mighty Mike McGee performs one of his earliest poems
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Santa Clara County's new poet laureate, Mighty Mike McGee, performs one of his first poems at Live Lit in San Jose.



Despite his unfiltered approach, McGee is also an ardent supporter of poetry and wants more people to share their writings in public.

He hosts Live Lit, an open mic for writers, every Thursday night at Caffe Frascati in downtown San Jose.

"One out of every six people in a sign up list is someone who has never done that before," said McGee, who wants poetry slams to liberate poetry from the stereotype that it is boring.

McGee will be Santa Clara County's poet laureate until 2019.
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