Stan Burfield, organizer
Everything came together perfectly for the first time in our three seasons. A great introduction by John Tyndall and a wonderful reading by feature Patricia Black were only the first, large stepping stones across the pond. The next step was so easy it wasn't even noticed by most people: It was the lack of loud, live music, which has always in the past seriously hampered the buzz of conversation. The audience was too busy talking to notice it was missing. This was the first time, as well, in which we used two co-hosts during the one event. I opened it with a subdued, straight-forward introduction to the evening and, when Patricia was finished reading and all the questions and answers had come to a halt, the other co-host, Joan Clayton, stepped forward and her energy took the open mic section to the next level. Her introductions to the readers and her little comments after them also helped to unify the event. And then luck added its own finishing touches to this particular event: The progression of open mic readers was so perfect, each in exactly the right place to only add to and not subtract from those on either side, that a newby to the series could easily have thought it had all been planned. When it was over, it felt perfect. We stood around in the glow of it, not wanting it to end. Linda and I packed up and slowly headed home. I spotted a MacDonald's and we stopped and sat in the car for half an hour licking ice cream cones and chatting about the people and the readings and this little community of poets we're a part of.
Stan Burfield, organizer
--featuring Patricia Black and all the open mic poets who want to read.
WHERE: Mykonos Restaurant at 572 Adelaide St. North, London, Ontario. The restaurant has a large, covered terrace just behind the main restaurant, which comfortably holds 60 poetry lovers. Mediterranean food and drinks are available. Overflow parking is available across the side street and in the large lot one block north, in front of Trad’s Furniture.
MUSIC: We are quieting down our music to allow for easier conversation than was possible in the past. Consequently, we will have live accompanying music from 6:30 to 7:00, or, if we can't get a musician, piped-in restaurant music.
THE FEATURED POET: Patricia Black will open the poetry portion of the event at 7:00, followed by a Q&A. Patricia's bio, interview and four of her poems.
OPEN MIC: Following the featured poet, as many open mic poets who want to read will read, the first 15 of them before about 9:15 pm when we will have a short break. After that, open mic readings will continue until 10:30 or until they have all read. Each poet has five minutes (which is about two good pages of poetry, but it should be timed at home). Sign up on the reader`s list, which is on the book table at the back. It's first come, first served. The audience will thin out as time goes on, so the shyer poets might prefer to have their names near the end.
RAFFLE PRIZES: Anyone who donates to London Open Mic Poetry Night receives a ticket for a raffle prize, three of which will be picked after the intermission. The prizes consist of poetry books donated by Brick Books and The Ontario Poetry Society. Donations are our only source of income.
After more than a season and a half of London Open Mic Poetry Night events, over half of the local poets who satisfy our original criteria -- having had at least one book of poetry published --have read as featured poets.
The following list (in alphabetical order) includes most of the remaining poets who fit that category. Most will read during Seasons 3 and 4. Only two have yet been booked into actual event dates for Season 3.
Don Gutteridge - National Poetry Month, Season 3, April 2015
Debbie Okun Hill
Penn Kemp - National Poetry Month, Season 2, April 2014
John B. Lee
Monika Lee - June 4th, 2014 (2nd season ender)
Gloria Alvernaz Mulcahy
Roy MacDonald - Oct. 1st, 2015 (kicking off 3rd season)
Erik Martinez Richards
If I’m missing anyone, please tell me.
Obviously there are not enough poets in this list to feature for more than two seasons. Assuming we will be enjoying an existence beyond that, and there seems to be no reason why we won’t, then we have a problem.
I knew from the beginning this would have to be solved somehow, at some point, and so by December of Season 2 I began to loosen up the criteria for featuring, letting the occasional poet from elsewhere read, the first being UWO’s then Writer-in-Residence NourbeSe Philip Soon I had a few more poets from outside the area booked in, all for seemingly good reasons. However, it is becoming obvious that this is threatening to erode away our ideal of supporting and promoting the local community. So in future this will only happen if it’s not possible to get a local poet to feature for an event.
Where will local features come from when all the poets on the above list have read?
Some will feature a second time, especially if they have a new book out. Frank Davey will be the first to do this early in Season 3. Anyone who publishes a new book and wants to re-feature, just ask.
We will be widening our local area somewhat. The list above includes the first two from this enlarged region: John B. Lee of Brantford and Debbie Okun Hill from Sarnia. Others will follow.
Also we will begin featuring poets who don’t have any books published, some of whom are very good. As the number of poets has increased and the number of publishers of poetry books has decreased recently, many of our best poets have given up on publication, or are paying for it themselves. We haven’t decided yet how to select which of these poets to feature.
Occasionally we will feature something different than a single poet. For instance, in February we had four senior UWO English students with something written for the occasion. If anyone has a good idea for a special feature, something locally oriented, there’s no harm in asking.