We had come to hear Monika Lee’s tremendous poems. And we did, read the way they should be read, in the lilting rhythm of a person talking, but somehow better, more full, words that opened up inside each listener.
But before Monika read, we heard Sharon Bee, the blend of her piano and voice, the beauty of her songs, with drums to the side. And again, after Monika read her poems, Sharon sang one of them she had put to song, a strikingly beautiful combination of melody and poetry, voice and piano. We will hear it again on the video of Monika Lee’s reading, which will be coming here soon.
Somewhere in there I said my thanks. To those who had worked and earned it this second season. To those who came throughout the year. To the forty four who came to live the moment together.
I had brought notes to read, but over these two seasons my confidence has grown so that I hardly glanced at them, amazing myself. I said I had gone from zero to fifty on the scale of introversion and extroversion and, if that is so, I should be able to stand up there babbling, talking even with my hands and arms. But I admitted that was a level of reality beyond me. Yet it wasn’t. When I got to where I had planned to begin reading, I was relaxed. And into it.
I spoke about London Open Mic Poetry Night doing a pretty good job of filling a big hole in the poetry scene in London. Featuring great local poets, given them an audience both live and on the internet. And I said there are still many more in the city and the local region for the coming seasons. We may even bring back a few early readers as well. But even more important than that, in my estimation, we have also given a much larger group of poets the opportunity to read for five minutes at a shot before an open mic audience. (And this particular audience, hearing this, burst into applause, spontaneous agreement.) Poets who are beginners can read right alongside those who are highly published. And it gives them motivation. Largely because of the open mic, some of us keep writing poems. We actually create things we might never have attempted otherwise. And every time we write a poem, we not only get better at it but we think thoughts and appreciate things in new ways. In my case, I said, as part of getting ready for the next open mic, I work on a new poem or pull out an old one and rework it. Any kind of fame as a poet is far beyond my reach, but just for myself and for my five minutes in the open mic spotlight, I push myself into the throws of creative orgasm. And that’s a good thing.
I organize the open mic. And I write stuff like this for the curious. But it has become far too much for one person to handle. It’s now a group effort by necessity. So I said thank you’s from everyone who has enjoyed London Open Mic to those who worked on it this year.
A big thank you went to Kevin Heslop, who is many things, beginning with a good friend. Kevin has done some photography for us during Season Two, but is now concentrating on interviewing our featured poets. He has a very clear mind when it comes to making decisions and has contributed greatly to the smooth functioning of the open mic. And, not a small matter, at least to me, he has managed to keep me excited about the actual act of writing poetry, as I push myself along the creativity-destroying road of organizing.
Thank you to Frank Davey, not only for having his blog on our website, which brings untold numbers of readers from elsewhere in Canada, but also for contributing his decision-making ability and his huge experience to our committee meetings.
And thank you to our second-newest member, videographer Kenny Khoo. This is Kenny’s third month of creating videos of our readings. We’re especially grateful to him because of the amount of personal time at home that he puts into this, time he has little left after working his day job as an engineer. (Not only that, but Kenny has just acquired a little puppy, which has been keeping him up nights.) Kenny’s videos allow us to re-experience any of the feature and open mic poems which fascinated us first time around. (Beginning this month he is also recording the musicians.) This by itself makes London Open Mic a much more substancial event than it was.
Thanks also to London artist James Wood, for supplying a monthly drawing for the home page of our website. His first drawing, which really is a visual poem, is on the home page now. New drawings will replace old about mid-month.
A special thank you to my great friend Carl Lapp, for his tremendous help making decisions, and so much more. Carl didn’t know it before I said this, but he’s now the newest member of our organizing committee. (To which he pumped his arms in the air, so even without his help I obviously made the right decision here.)
(I said to Carl on the phone, after a long, rambling conversation, “When we’ve gotten to our age, we’ve not only experienced a lot of different things, but just from so much thinking we’ve kind of absorbed the workings of the world, haven’t we Carl?” to which he responded, “Yes, and the open mic is the world in microcosm.”) !!!!.
And lastly a big smooshy kiss of a thank you goes to the lady sitting at the book table at the back, my wife Linda Burfield, who is more important to London Open Mic than anyone knows. To read off, point by point, everything she’s done and supplied, physically and emotionally, would take far too long, so I won’t. She is the support every vital organization needs.
And then at the end I said thank you, everybody, for coming. You’re what it’s all about.
Oh, one more thing. Today is also somebody’s birthday. Happy 77th to Roy MacDonald. He’s going to be our next featured poet, on Oct. 1st. If you want to be truly astonished by a poetry reading, make sure you come to hear Roy.
Monika Lee interview and four poems