In an interview with London Open Mic Poetry Night, Figurski described how the one art form led to the other: “The bridge, for me, between poetry and music was my exploration of sound poetry. Like many children of the 60’s I also harboured a desire to be a musician. With sound poetry I opened my toolkit to include performance using sounds; abstract writing that tries to integrate or synthesize different modes of expression such as performance, writing (non-semantic) language, and music. It is a short leap of faith from there to playing music and singing. I was almost 40 when I decided to re-invent myself. I picked up a guitar and began to teach myself. After a couple of years, I began to play at open mic venues. I was meeting other musicians and began playing with ones who played similar music. I was most attracted to American roots music, old jazz, and vocal harmony. I began playing with an indie folk music group called Screen Door Slam. I played mandolin, harmonica, guitar, and sang. After that group disbanded, I played with a group called Paper Moon. Along the way I have found myself playing harmonica and singing with a few blues groups, more recently with the Dave Dillon Blues Band. Most recently I’ve also been doing some studio work, playing harmonica on a couple of indie recordings. The main difference, for me, between the creative processes of making music and of writing poetry is that writing tends to be a solitary experience, it is a form of expression that very few people relate to anymore; music, on the other hand for me is a shared experience, very much in the moment – you kiss the joy as it flies. And music appeals to almost everybody.”
Two members of the London band ‘Big Picture’ will be playing with Figurski and Heslop. Pianist GEOFF JOHNSON and vocalist NINA DAVIS will play during the half hour before the event and up to half an hour afterwards. (If you liked the opening music, don’t go home early.) And they will play alone during the intermission, performing original pieces. Both Johnson and Davis are songwriters, working in a variety of genres, including folk, jazz, rock and blues.
We are no longer picking names at random from a ballot bowl. To read at the open mic you must sign the sheet when you enter. It’s first-come, first-served. So come at least by 6:30 and listen to the music. We emphasize ‘at least’ because the current issue of ‘Scene Magazine’ has a very positive half-page story about us (p. 17), and so the terrace at Mykonos Restaurant, which can sit about 65, may be standing-room only this time.
5 Poems by Jan Figurski
Jan Figurski bio
WHERE: The 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.
WHEN: October 2nd, the first Wednesday of the month, as with most of our events.
LIVE MUSIC: JAN FIGURSKI, GEOFF JOHNSON, NINA DAVIS AND KEVIN HESLOP begin playing at least by 6:30. There is an intermission with live music (JOHNSON AND DAVIS) and more at the end of the event, with all four musicians.
THE FEATURED POET: JAN FIGURSKI begins reading shortly after 7:00, followed by a Q&A.
OPEN MIC: Following the featured poet, there is about 1.5 hours of open mic, ending about 9:00 pm. Each poet has five minutes (which is about two good pages of poetry, but it should be timed at home). NOTE: FOR THE FIRST TIME, WE WILL NOT BE SELECTING NAMES AT RANDOM, BUT, AS IS TRADITIONAL AT MOST POETRY OPEN MICS, POETS WILL WRITE THEIR NAMES IN A SPOT OF THEIR CHOOSING ON A LIST AT THE DOOR. They will also be asked for their email addresses and whether or not we can photograph and videotape them reading.
RAFFLE PRIZES: Anyone who donates to London Open Mic Poetry Night receives a ticket for a raffle prize, three of which will be picked. The prizes consist of poetry books donated by Brick Books and The Ontario Poetry Society. Donations are our only source of income. We still haven't paid off our initial debt.
EBOOK ANTHOLOGY: Our annual ebook is an anthology of the poets who have read during the year, including both the featured poets, with one or two poems by each, and the open mic readers, with from one to a few, depending on length, from each of those who wish to participate, no matter how many times they read. The ebook will then be available on Amazon at the end of the season, at a few dollars each, used to help offset expenses. If anyone gives us more than several poems, we will select from them. All poems that are included must have been read at the events during the season. The ebook will include a short biography (up to seven lines) of each poet. This must be included with the poems. We may also add a photo of the poet reading at the event. This hasn’t been decided yet. To keep transcription errors from creeping into the poems, the preferred way to get them to us is by email. Those who don’t use email can give us a copy at the events. A cautionary note: Some poets may not want certain poems to be included in the ebook because it would make them unacceptable for later publication in certain poetry journals. Erik Martinez Richards will edit and publish the anthology. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org