While chatting over coffee, my friend who had co-hosted Spoken Word for a number of years, asked Bob and me if we’d be interested in co-hosting the event for the coming month. I hesitated. Maybe I was finally maturing – or just getting old. Normally, I would jump in with both feet and then curse my impulsiveness.
I’m not a poet. I remember saying that. She said it was only my impression that it was a poetry event. No, it’s writing of all kinds. Then my thoughts went to the food they served during intermission. The conveners had always provided oodles of food. Though I’d partaken of the yummy fruit, veggies, cakes, cookies, de-alcoholized wine, etc. etc., I wasn’t interested in providing the spread. Thoughts of slugging coolers, bags, and bottles up the stairway to the top floor put me off. Then the time it would take to set up, not to mention the cleanup afterwards. Trudging down the stairs at the end of the night with leftovers and garbage. No, I wouldn’t commit to that.
On the other hand, I wanted to help my friend with Spoken Word. Bob and I decided that we would do it. For the next month or two. But no food. We’d toss in a case or so of water.
I also balked at having a theme. Keep it simple, I said. It’s an open mic event. Participants should share their work without searching for theme material. Sure, the theme was a fun suggestion and optional, but on occasion it had kept me from participating. If the conveners were encouraging guest hosts, then keeping it simple would make the job seem less daunting.
When Bob and I arrived to set up the room, we couldn’t find the podium. Minor glitch. Normally attendance is between 10 and 20ish. We placed a chair in the centre of the room and made a semi circle of chairs around it. Readers could sit while sharing their prose or poetry. (Many preferred to stand.)
I liked the new setup. The circle was more conducive to a gathering of fellow word lovers than the customary podium and rows of seating.
The regulars accepted the new arrangement without comment and the lack of food and refreshments was not an issue – well, one person mentioned it at the end of the evening.
As my friend said, anyone can read anything, but my first impression was right. It’s mostly poetry. A lot of the poetry is dark. Or maybe not. Perhaps the dark poetry resonated more with me.
Some attendees wrote their own material and others read poetry from their favourite collections. Poems they’d stumbled across over a lifetime of reading. Dog-eared books fall open to select passages. Journals that bulge with snips and clippings are held together with elastic bands. Scraps of yellowed paper flutter to the floor. A lifetime of keepsakes.
It is most revealing.
Readings of my fictional mystery, murder, and mayhem take away from the purity of the event. The soul-baring of an intimate group of strangers.