Former Poet Laureate Antonio Edwards Jr. passed on the torch to me as the new Poet Laureate for Tacoma. So, with that duty off his plate, one thing keeping him busy now is that he has taken on the ambitious project of starting a NEW Open Mic here in the City of Destiny.
At newly opened Cafe Messina at 744 Market St., AE hosts Poetry in the 253 every 3rd Friday of the month at 7 p.m. Last Friday nite I got to do my first reading there as PL. It was an honor to be sure, but mostly, I was struck by the buoyant energy and support of the crowd and fellow poets. From freestyle sista spits to one poet reading poetry about fighting cancer to a controversial piece shared from a right to life perspective, Poetry in the 253 as a whole was supportive and collective. I haven't clapped or laughed or yakked that much at a poetry reading since 1998--when I went to my first Nuyorican Poetry Slam event in Southern California.
Antonio makes a gracious and encouraging emcee. New poets or writers will find him particularly welcoming and inviting. Not to mention, the night wouldn't be complete without a poem or two dramatically performed by him. Antonio also told me, some weekdays, he stops into Cafe Messina at lunch time and just for the heck of it, he ambushes the lunch crowd by performing his spoken word poetry. He will start doing a poetry performance smack dab in the middle of a rush. I asked him, do people actually stop talking and eating and carrying on to listen to your poem? Antonio said, Yes! I've made some pretty good tips at it too! ;)
If you are up for anything literary on a Friday night, dial in to Poetry in the 253 and be sure to bring something to read. I have no doubt that soon this open mic will have such a devoted loyal following it will be standing room only.