From the Ragged Edge

About a month ago, I read at the Ragged Edge Cafe in Gettysburg, and if you live anywhere near central of southeastern, PA, I suggest checking out their poetry series, which runs every First Friday of the month. The event is half open mic and half feature, and the open mic only includes poetry, so writers don’t have to worry about competiting with musicians. The event organizers work hard at promoting the event, and when I read, my audience consisted of a few dozen people. Not bad for a cold night in early March! Futhermore, the open mic was a great mix of local college students and poets that have done several readings throughout Pennsylvania. The writing community there is encouraging and supportive, and I hope their events continue to grow well into the future.

Ian Falcone, a son of one of the regular poets/open micers, recorded a video of me reading. I’ve done a lot of readings, but few videos have surfaced, so, I thought I’d share.

Shout-out to Two Open Mics

For budding writers living in northeast, PA, there is a chance to share your work with a broader audience through two newish open mics in the area.  The first open mic I want to mention takes place the fourth Wednesday of every month at Library Express in the Steamtown Mall at Scranton. I used to host this, but my teaching schedule prevented me from continuing to do so. However, local poet Scott Thomas has stepped in and revived it, so make sure to check it out. The next one will be in April.

The other open mic I want to mention takes place the fourth Friday of each month at the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock. Unlike the Library Express open mic, this one also features music. Participants are encouraged to get there by 6:30 if you want to sign up for one of the open performance slots. They fill up fast! The series is run by Laurel Radzieski, a Keystone College alum who is currently working on her M.F.A. at Goddard. In June, I will be stepping in and hosting the series for one night, and I will be the featured poet July 26.

Plenty of opportunities are available in the area for young writers. Make sure to make use of them.



In Praise of Open Mics

When I was 18 years old and a freshman at West Chester University, I desperately wanted to become a writer, and I was fortunate to find a local literary community. Every Wednesday, I attended the open mic night at Fernarrio Coffee Shop, which provided a space for me to share my work with an audience that gave me helpful feedback, long before I had a clue how to craft a decent extended metaphor and where to break a line. This series was especially unique because it featured jazz musicians, Bob Dylan wannabes, and poets all sharing the stage. The first time I took the stage, I read too fast, stumbled over a few lines, and griped the paper until it wrinkled, but the more I did it, the easier it became. For four years, even after I took a bunch of creative writing classes, I continued attending local open mics. They made me confident in my work and eventually prepared me for doing my own featured readings.

Recently, some open mics have started in northeastern, PA. One occurs the last Wednesday of every month at the Library Express at the Steamtown Mall. It starts at 6:30 p.m., and so far, we’ve had a nice mix of college and high school students. I hope they continue attending as a way to revise their work and gain confidence.

The other open mic I know of takes place the third Friday of every month at ArtSeen Gallery in Wilkes-Barre. It begins at 8 p.m.

If you are just starting out, or even if you’re a polished writer, attend the open mics in your community as a way to share your work and support other writers. If you know of a local open mic, please spread the word.