Selfies, Greek Gods & Jerry Garcia: Just Another Open Mic at Village Books (October 2013)

Dear Writers,

October may be over, but this Open Mic at Village Books was pretty unforgettable. From chicken chases to daring detectives to plainly good dope, the stories came fast and furious and from every direction! Not sure where Halloween fit in, but it didn’t seem to matter in the least.

The Immortal Game by Joannah Miley

The Immortal Game by Joannah Miley – A very cool cover, don’t you think?

We welcomed Lilly Wasserman, reading her beautiful poems “Nana” and “Brown,” a ‘letter’ to the color that was the backdrop to a selfie taken as a class assignment. Welcome, Lilly, and thanks for the gift of your poetry! Harvey Schwartz served up “Mary Jane,” the prequel to the road odyssey he’s been sharing the past few weeks. How delightful to get the story in this order, hearing the origins of the infamous hitchhiking trip and also anticipating what’s to come. Smoking a little dope to the strains of White Rabbit—ah, college life in the 1960s . . . and that’s only the beginning of this tale.

Dick Harris is hard at work on a new project—A Poet’s Journey to the Southwest—and he shared some poetry he intends to use in the book, including “Child of the Desert,” as well as a poem inspired by a visit to the Acoma Pueblo and the story told by the guide about the people of Acoma (i.e., the People of the White Rock). Thanks to Dick for taking us along on this part of his journey. Nancy Canyon read a selection from her memoir project Lookout: After a failed “chicken chase” (read: no fresh eggs), we journeyed with Nancy to the edges of civilization and introduction to life in a lookout tower, learning such lessons as where to sit during a lightning storm. In this well-wrought piece, the journey truly is the destination. Props to Nancy!

Laura Rink dropped in to share another section of her story “Mariner’s Rest.” Laura was one of the writers who recently headed to Lummi Island on the latest Red Wheelbarrow Writers Write Out organized by Seán Dwyer. The Write Out was too much fun, productive, and in gorgeous surroundings. It was fun to then listen to the next part of Laura’s mariner tale—penned with wonderful details of life on the water and how the experience of age is coupled with the body aging and challenges it brings.

If you missed it, so sorry for you! In a one-of-a-kind form that merged letter, story, and play, Susan Chase Foster imagined what Jerry Garcia might do on Halloween. Replete with the most unlikely of ghosts and hilarious Bellingham references, this irreverent tribute to the much-loved musician simply brought the house down. I think this one will need an encore sometime.

Our fearless leader from the Lummi Write Out, Seán Dwyer read “The Distant Sound,” juxtaposing the hilarious and profoundly sad elements of a child maneuvering life with a father who works nights, while mom dallies with a male friend. Beautifully rendered, with an otherworldly tone, this tale of a young life dwelling between storm and calm certainly held our interest. Next came Joannah Miley, presenting the opening scene of her debut novel, The Immortal Game. Just out in November, you can pick up a copy at Village Books or purchase it online. Congrats, Joannah, and thanks for a taste of this intriguing story that promises chess like you’ve never seen it played, the machinations of modernized Greek gods, and, of course, grand love!

Marvin Waschke

Marvin Waschke, blogger at, one of the Private Writers Group of Whatcom County

Marvin Waschke‘s Nero Wolfe–style story titled “Lunchus Interrptus” took us back to the era of the great detective and his/her faithful sidekick—in this case the engaging narrator of the story that delivered a fun frolic and a corpse to boot. Marvin is one of the so-dubbed Private Writers Group who came enforce to Open Mic this night. He, along with Joannah Miley and Sabine Sloley, represented their longtime group with fine flair. And if you missed Marvin’s story or want to read more of it, you can find it posted at his blog, VineMaple.netSabine Sloley (another PWG), cruised in to give us another segment of her story “Chip and Kitten Go to the Beach.” Props to these most entertaining hooligans, belying the menacing element that dots this fine story.

In honor of our extremely optional Halloween theme, but with a far darker twist than the lilting rhyme scheme suggested, Clare Mercy came to read her short piece titled “Misconception.” The juxtaposition of light form with dark meaning was intriguing. It’s always great to end with laughter, and Jim Milstead did not disappoint with “Three Liners”—a witty ode to none other than a toilet. On that note, adieu!

XO Laurel Leigh

Clover, A Literary Rag, edited by Mary Gillilan

Clover, A Literary Rag, edited by Mary Gillilan

♦ Check out some great events for writers About Town.

♦ Read more from me at Dogpatch Writers Collective, including “Can a Colonoscopy Make You a Better Writer?

♦ Read my story “Darrell, In Milwaukee,” in the latest issue of Clover, A Literary Rag.

♦ The next Open Mic will be Monday, January 27 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. Find pics from other open mics here!

P.S. And thanks to all for the rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday,” and especially to Susan for the delish cookies.

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