It’s Tuesday night at Blue State Café on Thayer. Like any night, the staff is serving specialty drinks and pastries in a brightly lit room surrounded by the décor of a local artist, which expels the classroom-like feel created by the standardized tables and chairs. But tonight is different. It’s Tuesday night, which means it’s Got Poetry Live!
Got Poetry Live! was started in 2006 at Reflections Cafe in Providence by Tony Brown, John Powers, and Nate Hutnak. It was created from the ashes of The Spoken Word reading that had, in one form or another, existed since the early 1990s. In the passing of that reading, the three wanted the tradition of Tuesday night poetry to continue, as well as provide a non-Slam alternative. Ryk McIntyre came on as co-host in late 2007. In 2008, the reading moved to Blue State Coffee, where it has been ever since.
Ryk McIntyre (the now host) opens the night with a cover poem, then starts the open mic. “The chimneys release waves of cedar smoke over the horizon that put historic college hill to shame.” Katrina reads from her bible palmed journal, and one can see the crowd snuggle into the bed and blanket of words that warm the silence.
Referred to as a “listening room,” Got Poetry Live! provides a reading for those who choose not to slam or who want a quieter, more relaxed environment. The open mic and features draw from the world of performance poetry, academia, and Hip-Hop poets. “We also have musical features,” says Ryk, who readily exclaims, “We try to mix it up.”
One by one, the word quilters stich their patch onto the night. “Leave your message after the beep, hope you are not out in the cold, this blizzard is Murda,” an over exaggerated Boston accent entwined within a gruff, rugged voice spews from a plaid-shirted beard behind the microphone. “I write my letters in planet dust, I write love letters in binary code, the words are more 1s than 0s,” says Rachel. “The clouds quarrel over gossip and truth,” goes Darmont. If fostering a room for listeners to hear poets is the goal, Got Poetry Live! is hitting its mark.
I asked Ryk what he likes the most about his venue, and he replied, “There are too many great moments to remember. What I like most is when a first-timer comes to the mic. Whatever the reading series, wherever, you are only as good as the flow of new poets, new ideas, and new blood that comes through the doors.” Harboring a supportive community, I’m sure there will be no lack of new blood entering through the doors.
Got Poetry Live! is every Tuesday at 8 pm at Blue State Café. Our March features include Dana Rowe, Kris Weinrich, Jason Henry Simon-Bierenbaum, and Ryk McIntyre. Other happenings are Mairead Byrne’s Couscous, which happens the last Tuesday of every month at AS220. For other poetic goings-on, you can check the AS220 website.