The normal London reading series at Mykonos, London Open Mic Poetry Night, regularly turns out substantially larger audiences, but the weather reports had predicted a very hot day, so it was no surprise that many people decided to stay home. The London Branch Manager had tried to obtain folding paper fans for everybody in advance, but none were available anywhere in the city, so free rental and real-estate magazines were supplied in their place and seemed to do the job for most of the audience
Thirteen TOPS members read: Carmen Falconi, Wayne Ray, Stan Burfield (London Chapter Manager), Fran Figge (TOPS President), Debbie Okun Hill, I. B. (Bunny) Iskov (TOPS founder), Keith Inman, Leona Harris, John Ambury, Nancy Walden, Roy James, Dunlaith O'Heron, and Carmen, a holocaust survivor. Carl Lapp was present but didn't read.
Additionally, seven non-members read at the open mic: Martin Hayter, Joan Clayton, Lorna Pominville, Kevin Heslop, John Nyman, Dorothy Mahoney, Laurie Smith.
Readers drove into London from all over SW Ontario just for this event, from Toronto, Newmarket, Windsor, Sarnia, Thorold and more.
A Personal Note from Stan Burfield, London TOPS Chapter Manager & organizer of London Open Mic Poetry Night: WOW!!!
From my point of view as co-host (with Bunny Iskov, TOPS founder), the afternoon certainly was a success. In fact it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
After a long life of serious shyness, this was the first time I have ever been totally calm in a gathering largely of strangers. It was the culmination of five years of self-therapy. Initially, I forced myself out into the community to attend Ron Stewart's great monthly poetry workshop, and when that became easy I tried to read to an audience, and, finally, for lack of a regular reading venue, I created one by organizing London Open Mic Poetry Night. That idea was sparked by a TOPS reading/open mic I attended in Sarnia. Moreso than attending workshops and reading in public, It was the organizing itself that did most of the work of ridding me of shyness.
So, after three seasons of London Open Mic, here I am actually co-hosting this year’s version of the TOPS event I had attended in Sarnia that got me going on this course in the first place. And, by lovely coincidence, this event happens to be the first one at which I’ve ever been totally calm. It felt so good I had to keep myself from constantly grinning. Everything I said as co-host was warm and relaxed, the polar opposite of my tight fear at the first few events of London Open Mic three years ago. It feels like some huge coin has finally settled down on its opposite face.
I definitely have Bunny Iskov, and the rest of the executive of TOPS, to thank for this, because I would never have thought of becoming a social organizer (“Are you insane!?!?”) had it not been for TOPS.
A possible "Shy Poets Club"
Preparing for the Sultry Summer TOPS reading, I thought of starting a Shy Poets Club. Socializing worked to rid me of my shyness; why wouldn’t it also for others? It would probably be a poem sharing club, but light on critiquing and heavy on socializing. In a group of shy people, no one is going to be judging other shy people negatively. Only supporting each other.