June 2013 Open Mic at Village Books a.k.a. “Night of the Shags”

Dear Writers:

The series has spontaneously taken off at our open mic! It may have been Vince Landi who started it with his story “Two Painters,” but rather than worry about shaving an excerpt to fit the 7-minute time limit or trying to read a story at the speed of light, writers are bringing a story to read over the course of two or three open mics.

And the crowd loves it!

Our June theme was Bounty of the Seasons, so of course I brought my copy of Edible Selby, a book about gardens, kitchens, restaurants, and homes and the amazing people who run them.

From Edible Selby: "Hi Angelo! What is the meaning of life?" "When you are born, you are irrelevant! Then you spend all your life to become relevant. Then you die."

From Edible Selby:
“Hi Angelo! What is the meaning of life?”
“When you are born, you are irrelevant! Then you spend all your life to become relevant. Then you die.”

Another element that threatened to make itself an open mic tradition this time out is The Shag.

Yep, that glorious disaster of a haircut that your own momma or the kid next door could give you while you sat on a kitchen chair in the bathroom even if she’d never spent a day in hairdressing school, and which any of us of a certain age most likely proudly sported above our legwarmers at one time or another, thanks to Jane Fonda, Pat Benatar, and the oh-so-dreamy David Cassidy/Keith Partridge.

Shags these days, called by many other names, are far more sophisticated, but it was those brave early ’80s haircuts that paved the way for the luscious locks we see today.

David Cassidy (from DavidCassidyFansite.com)

David Cassidy (from DavidCassidyFansite.com)

So anyhoo . . .

The delightful Sabine Sloley opened the night with an excerpt from “Chip and Kitten Go to the Beach,” a continuation of a story she started reading to us in April. One mark of a good story is that we can remember it, and I for one readily recalled these characters and the situation and was excited to see what next turn of events awaited them. This is a tale in which the girl from the character’s dreams turns out to be real, but it’s not going to be a romance, but then again it might.

Kathy Smith next shared a quiet description of a memory that grew “loud” only in its beauty. She had us quietly mesmerized. Harvey Schwartz brought a quartet of poems, beginning with “Falling Asleep After Watching Downton Abbey.” A loaded entrance, for sure! If you missed it, well, you can always find reruns of the show—but you might have to come to open mic to hear Harvey’s poetry.

Sylvia Crosby brought us a “second half” of a story she first read at May’s open mic. In this charming story, a women of a certain age gently stalks an old flame in a most delightful fashion. Sylvia mentioned that she started writing this story in one of my classes, and I want to say, “Syliva, thank you for using the sense of smell in this story! It’s great to know a lesson sticks now and then!”

Jim Milstead brought us “Autobiography,” with a hilarious description of a man and wife seen from the perspective of their beleaguered car, as well as “DG DY Afternoon,” a piece with a quirky twist inspired by Naseem Rahka‘s compelling talk about her love affair with the Grand Canyon at the recent Chuckanut Writers Conference. (See my pics from the conference here.)

Naseem Rahka's plenary session speech about the Grand Canyon and the writerly life moved many people to tears.

Naseem Rahka’s plenary session speech about the Grand Canyon and the writerly life moved many people to tears.

C.J. Prince performed her beautiful poem “Undertow,” born from a prompt to use “black” in as many ways as possible, yielding in this poem a wonderful use of the word repeated as a unifying theme. She also read the moving “Butter and Sand,” and closed with what I can only call an ode to The Shag, introducing our new covert theme.

Man, I love the ’80s. And David Cassidy is still dreamy.

Angela Belcaster, who reported having “one of those Mondays” (Angela, we all have felt your pain and thank god we can write through it), made us a gift of her poetry, including “Hoarding,” inspired by a TV show but far more lyrical: “Save everything. You never know when what you love will disappear without a trace.”

Beluga Whales (from dreamstime.com)

Beluga Whales (from dreamstime.com)

Nancy Sherer shared her essay titled “Encore,” involving observing a show of dolphin behaviors along with a Beluga whale at the Vancouver B.C. Aquarium. Spinning off from this intriguing experience, the essay curved into a memory and reflections on human treatment/feeding of animals: “No other species gets the same delight from luring other animals closer just to watch them eat.”

Susan Chase Foster introduced her poem “6-21-13,” inspired by her daughter’s completion of her medical residency, including a mother’s experience of being privy to such medical student comments as, “I totally ♥ minimally invasive surgery.” Susan followed with a marvelous letter she had written to her daughter, recalling the new doc as a kid already showing medical tendencies by doing massively invasive surgery on her Barbie dolls—scissoring off their heads and then re-attaching them.

David Drummond started with a quick primer on “root wads”—the root systems of upended trees (don’t feel badly, I didn’t know that either)—by way of introducing his poem about a root wad farm. Next he gave us “Bleached Bums,” poking some good-spirited fun at his buddy and Open Mic regular Jim Milstead. And finally, “Ouzel Dip,” including a live enactment at the podium of how the birds actually dip. Can we see that again next month, David?

Nancy Canyon read from her memoir in process, “Lookout,” clarifying that marriage isn’t true bliss. (Who knew? Have I ever mentioned that I’ve been married twice and divorced three times. I’ll save that for a late-night drunken post, but you can see wedding dress #2 here.) Nancy weaves hilarity and darkness into the very same line with adeptness, and somehow, a shag sneaked into this story as well!

Marion Exell closed the evening with a short story born of blitz writing, inviting us into the rich setting of a Pacific Northwest garden. But there was a lot more to this beautiful bok choy tale than just planting a garden.

All in all, another great evening of readings, shags, and waterfowl. See you next month!

About Town:

Don’s miss the latest news from Field’s End. Story Slam at the Treehouse Cafe is slated for Thursday, July 25th at 7 p.m. in Lynnwood. Registration opens August 1st for all fall classes.

Saturday, July 20, 1-4 p.m., Matthew Brouwer will teach Using Kickstarter to Fund Your Creative Dream at the downtown Bellingham Food Co-op.

The awesome publisher Becker & Mayer has a spot for a full-time fiction editor in Bellevue. Check out the position description.

The Sun literary magazine is offering two full scholarships to its Big Sur Into the Fire retreat October 25-27.

Help Young Writers Flourish: Check out this very compelling short video for the Whatcom Juvenile Justice Creative Writing Project being launched by area poets Kevin Murphy and Matthew Brouwer to offer writing classes to youth in the Juvenile Justice system that will result in a chapbook of the young writer’s work. You can donate by July 30 to the Kickstarter Campaign hoping to raise $2,000 needed to fully launch this terrific giving-back project.

Find pics from other open mics here!

Read more groovy posts from me and my kennel mates at Dogpatch Writers Collective. Woof!

If you have or know someone who has a daughter age 12 to teens who loves to write, then I hope you will tell them about the Little Novelist Workshop, a writing class I’ll teach especially for a parent and daughter team, on Saturday, November 2, at Whatcom Community College.

  • VB-by-day1-199x300Patriots and Politics is the optional theme of the next open mic on Monday, July 29 at 7 p.m. in the Readings Gallery at Village Books. The rosters fill early so be sure to sign up ahead of time at the main counter on the first floor or call (360)-671-2626.Write on!

XO Laurel Leigh

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