Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Launching a New Venture

I'm securing a venue to host a monthly 4th-Monday open mic in my Southeast Seattle neighborhood, featuring spoken word (poetry, prose, memoir, etc.) and music, modeled after a thrice-monthly event that I attend in the northend of town. Choosing the location has been tricky — it must be open late and must serve alcohol (poets like to drink!). I spoke with one of the owners of Hummingbird Saloon last week, and he sounds 97% okay with the idea. Not excited, mind you. He hosted an open mic at a bar he used to own in New Orleans, and was overrun with loud and obnoxious (and offensive) slam poets. I'm not at all interested in the loud and obnoxious! Not interested in censorship either, but if I'm the one putting the time in to set up and host this thing, I get some say. (Glad the owner and I share this perspective.)

Need to track down an amp and microphone, and learn how to use the damn things. Any leads on this, Seattle friends?

It's been 22 years since I launched a poetry happening by myself, the last time in 1991. My boys were three and five years old, I was married, renting the house we eventually purchased, had different cats and a different job. How different my life was!

The writing group that launched is still meeting, with only one other original member other than myself. There have been at least a dozen other poets that no longer attend, including one who passed away. Currently we're nine-strong, just the right number!

In 1994, the group members at that time formed Floating Bridge Press, which has been operating in the black for 19 years — no small feat for an all-volunteer, non-profit poetry press. We were young and enthusiastic, and more than a teensy bit naive. But our leap into the unknown world of publishing resulted in dozens of books/chapbooks, as well as numerous issues of Pontoon: An Anthology of Washington State Poets, and now, Floating Bridge Review. Essentially, we opened a door to publishing for hundreds of Washington State Writers.

I resigned from my board position two years ago, and am proud to be a founder.

Somehow I seem to have reached an age where I can look back and take note of the ripples of effect a single thing can have on a person/life/community. When I began putting feelers out, all those years ago,  for other poets with interest in a critique group, I was desperate to connect with other writers. (Ah! Those pre-internet dinosaur days!) Little did I know the impact this would have on me and a community of writers, or that long-lasting friendships would be formed. I merely plunged forward with my plans, believing, always in infinite possibilities.

So it is with this same excitement that I'm putting together the open mic plans. I have no idea down which path it may lead, nor which intriguing characters I'll meet in the process. All I know is that it's a new beginning, a new direction, and I'm tingling already in anticipation.


  1. Well done. I look forward to hearing how it develops.

  2. Best wishes in your open mic poetry program!

    It will surely be a popular regular event and despite the many headaches, you are going to be very pleased with it. The fall is a good time for launching such ventures. :)

    Love, C.

  3. very exciting, T. Yes, the long-view is great. To look back at the seemingly inconsequential and see deep roots that resulted. Like meeting you way back when.