The Open Mic Project: Johnny Olson
The Open Mic Project The Open Mic Project: Johnny Olson
Johnny Olson of Mad Swirl. Photo courtesy Tim Thomaston. Although he had put pen to paper before, Johnny O never thought of himself as a wordsmith until the day he made the leap from being more than “just the weird guy that likes to draw and paint” and became instead “the weird guy that also is a writer and poet.”

Hailing originally from Chicago, Johnny moved to the Dallas area in 1998. Intending to stay only a year or two, he has since made D/FW his permanent home. Since coming to Dallas, he has performed his work at various venues around the metroplex, including a series of readings in Arlington hosted by Paul Sexton, and he served as host and reader at the 2007 Deep Ellum Arts Festival readings. The reading for which he is best known, however, and the one that is his own personal passion, is held at the Absinthe Bar on Lamar Street the first Wednesday of every month.

Both host and founder, Johnny has been leading the Mad Swirl Open Mic night since October 2004. Mad Swirl has become a local poetry institution, serving up generous helpings of local literary talent and drawing contributions from poets from all parts and from all walks of life. The Swirl encompasses not only the spoken word, but extends further into the printed and electronic word through the website and the companion Mad Swirl ’zine. Both continue the Mad Swirl tradition of promoting D/FW literary and artistic talent and feature contributions from local visual artists in addition to the poetry. The Mad Swirl ’zine was the first manifestation of Johnny’s vision for the Swirl, making its appearance in 1999 and still going strong today.

Johnny is the co-Webmaster of as well as a painter, illustrator, and writer. He currently works as a graphic and web designer.

“I don’t believe in literary or artistic competitions. Art is truly in the eye of the beholder.”

For Joe (remix by 10K Poets)