As of this month a brand new open mic has joined the Guelph music parade of offerings. Another afternoon event (is my early bedtime preference starting to show in the venues I have visited?), this one is open to music, comedy, poetry or any other creative endeavours you would like to share with a group.
The hosts, Eric & André, keep a low profile as MCs but start the afternoon off themselves and then join anyone wanting some guitar back-up.
[Tavern on the Grange, 259 Grange Rd in the Grange & Victoria Plaza; “most Sundays” 3:30-7:00; no cover, licensed]
Silence has been a hub of creativity for performance, improvisation and bringing together music and visual arts. One of the regular offerings at Silence is an open mic, twice a month where you are welcome to share your talent: artists, poets, musicians, magicians – and more!
The venue is licensed, but this is definitely a listening room – no competing background noise – and it is an early night (6:30 sign-up for a 7:00 start). There is a rotating host who also provides a feature set. This particular night, hosting/featuring duties fell to songwriter Paul Cammaert. It was a quiet evening, which meant each person had a bit more time to share.
All are welcome!
[Silence, 46 Essex Street, Guelph; 1st and 3rd Wednesdays 7-9 pm; $5/pwyc cover; licensed]
The Elora Poetry Centre is a wonderful example of people opening their home to share poetry, music and food. Hosts Daniel Bratton and Carol Williams moved an 1832 log cabin (the Beaver House) to their property near the Elora Gorge Conservation area and eventually realized their vision of making it a venue to bring poets and poetry aficionados together.
On September 27th, while Elora was all abuzz with Culture Days activities and the Elora-Fergus Studio Tour, the Elora Poetry Centre offered an evening of poetry readings (Jerry Prager, Morvern McNie, Daniel Kolos), finishing with a performance by Muddy York (Anne Lederman & Ian Bell).
These performances were part of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, an initiative happening in over 650 locations around the world, “ a demonstration/celebration to promote peace and sustainability and to call for serious social, environmental and political change”. While we relaxed, enjoying the poetry and the beautiful surroundings, our host Daniel reminded us that, on this day, some readings would be taking place in cultures where it was challenging and even dangerous to hold such an event.
With this in mind I hope everyone gets out to enjoy the abundance of local cultural offerings this fall!
After my first experience of Wordfest at the Elora Centre for the Arts I couldn’t wait for it to come around again. Combining poetry, story-telling and performance art, this event, hosted by Donna McCaw, celebrates the spoken word. Personal and poignant to rib tickling cleverness, each performer brought their own voice, their own style to the room.
Like any open mic, one of the fun aspects of Wordfest is that you don’t know whom you’ll be listening to until you are seated in the the old classroom waiting for the words – an adventure I highly recommend. With poetry and other writing for sale, you can take some of the evening home with you to revisit at your leisure.
[Wordfest, Elora Centre for the Arts, 75 Melville Street, Elora, twice/year, $6 cover, doors open @ 7 pm]
Of all the performers that take the stage I believe spoken word artists to be the bravest. No guitar to hide behind, no chorus to encourage the audience to tap their toes and sing along. Naked words conveyed directly from the poet to the listener.
Thursday night I attended Wordfest, a twice a year celebration of poetry and spoken word that has been happening in Elora since 2007. Hosted by writer Donna McCaw, the event attracted a wide range of ages and experience levels. From sentimental to intellectual, nervous neophyte to astonishingly great performers (thank you Harry from Caledon!), simple reading to multimedia presentation, there were many styles and personalities represented. While most read or performed their own work, some read from other authors.
I usually participate in the events I describe, a way of engaging in the adventure. But tonight I knew my place: in the audience. I tip my hat to the courage of the poet.
[Wordfest, Elora Centre for the Arts, 75 Melville Street, Elora, twice/year:
next event is April 2012; contact the Centre for more details]