It starts with moving the furniture. … The table goes against the wall. … The bookcases migrate farther from the door, and an open space becomes the center of attention. Chairs, a lectern, coffee and cakes in back — this has become the place of spoken word, the sharing of ideas and images. … the poetry open mike at RiverRead Books in downtown Binghamton.
Some words fit better in describing the monthly fare … “unpredictable,” for example — the first-time, stage-frightened souls who look their fear directly in the eye and step up to speak their words; “moving,” when a girl who can’t be more than 20 or so speaks an impromptu poetic monologue about the birth of her child.
There is both the good humor of familiarity among the regulars and some apprehension as we await this month’s surprises — the words that bring us up short, delight the ear and the heart, make us cease our mundane lives for a moment and consider what words can do.
Each participant — the poets and the folk who come to hear the words — adds a subtle, yet individual spice to the gumbo, a meal that we savor with reverence and amusement, as each in turn brings a different vision of his or her days before us. Poems of life, of art, of experience — all painted with the brush of carefully considered language.
So, stands the invitation to all to come and hear, to come and share, to bear witness as artisans and acolytes of the spoken word hone their craft.
“Road poet” J. Barrett Wolf was facilitator of the Feb. 12 open mike reading at RiverRead Books, 5 Court St., Binghamton. The next open mike will be March 19.