Open Mic Themes for 2013

Matthew Brouwer ReadingDear Writers,

A quick note for those of you who have asked, here’s the remaining totally optional open mic themes for this year, and you can always find these on my groovy website. Open mics are the last Monday of each month at Village Books. If you’re in town, please drop by and share a story or poem! Here’s more info.

Apr 29 ~ Poems + Flash Fiction for National Poetry Month Continue reading

February 2013 Open Mic @ Village Books + Alex!

Dear Writers:


Alex from Village Books

Many of us have enjoyed the hospitality of the great folks at Village Books in Fairhaven, including the upstairs Book Fare Café and Paper Dreams alongside. Have you ever wondered what they do in their off time? Well, on a trip to Rustic Coffee Bar in Fairhaven with the coffee shop writer himself, a.k.a. Sean Dwyer, we encountered a very familiar face. Continue reading

January 2013 Open Mic at Village Books

Dear Writers,

Here’s a verse from “January, 1795” by the great poet Mary Robinson:

Taste and talents quite deserted;

All the laws of truth perverted;

Arrogance o’er merit soaring;

Merit silently deploring.

As relevant as her wonderful poem still seems today, I also have to say, sorry, Mary! Because Monday’s lineup of writers had no shortage of merit, grace, and talent.

Madrona GroveCongratulations to Shannon Laws for publishing Madrona Grove: Poems Written Under the Canopy, a collection of Northwest-inspired poetry. Madrona Grove was printed on Village Books’s Espresso Machine and is available on shelf or online at Village Books. Shannon is an artist and created numerous different cover designs, so anyone who buys the book may have a different cover! Shannon shared poetry from her book as well as “No Morrow,” which is published in Volume 4 of Clover. She’s on fire!

Not to be outdone, Rae Ellen Lee read from her newly published book Cheating the Hog. A Sawmill. A Tragedy. A Few Gutsy Women. Points as well for the title, and congratulations to Rae Ellen for this newly launched title. She manages to make mill work, which we all can guess is exciting, hard, and dangerous, somehow also hilarious, and further, uses the tales from the mill as a jumping off place for other fearfully funny vignettes. Note that Cheating the Hog is a featured giveaway on GoodReads and the Kindle edition will be FREE on Feb 1, in honor of Groundhog’s day.

Monday night’s lineup also featured Deanna Hawkins, reading on her topic of “Where Can Rapture Be Found?” Deanna taught us about sins of the flesh, which in the modern world include Kobe beef. From this very humorous note, she took her essay in a beautiful direction to reflect on life and beauty. CJ Prince delighted us with “Before the Northwest” and other contemplative poems. She reports that she often reads her poetry aloud in her kitchen to try it out and then after reading at open mic finds additional inspiration to make some final revisions. CJ closed her set with “Packing for Boston,” discussing not only packing but packing ideas to carry. Continue reading

November 2012 Open Mic

Dear Writers,
Stories + Art at November’s Open Mic!

This month we welcomed poet Keith Moul to our midst. He writes poetry that pairs with his photo art, including this gorgeous road-in-the-desert scene. Thank you, Keith, for giving us a lovely backdrop for your reading. (The other backdrop is the half-built holiday sleigh at Village Books.)

Jim Milstead was the night’s opener with a holiday-themed, oh-so-slightly sarcastic poem discussing shopping for the season. Lest we be lulled by a seasonal greeting, next came “Land of Milk and Honeybucket.” Susan Cross followed with traumatic and hilarious memories of prepping Sunday schoolkids for a pageant—Who moved baby Jesus? Nancy Canyon had us in stitches with a new story, “Holy Spirit Delivers,” featuring a character who has a go at a revival meeting in her living room, by herself. Continue reading

September 2012 Open Mic

Dear Writers,
Mopping, I discovered that my kitchen floor is actually light brown.

So how is your floor like your character? It’s not, but if you do the work to fully render the little moments that gradually strip away the layers obscuring your character’s true self, the critical scene in which the last of those layers falls away has potential to be extremely powerful on the page.

On to September’s open mic recap! Continue reading

October 2012 Open Mic

Dear Writers,
October’s open mic was spooky good, frankly.

image from the

Being born on Halloween, I was uniquely qualified to emcee this particular open mic. A few witches showed up to help me cast a spell that called for some eye of newt and toe of frog as well as some scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, gall of goat and a tiger’s chaudron. All of this they stirred into a cauldron. If you haven’t guessed who they were by now, you need to go read your classics. Continue reading

August 2012 Open Mic

Dear Writers,
The talented crowd at this month’s open mic at Village Books did not disappoint! Congratulations to the writers who shared their newly published works and to those joining our company for the first time. Here’s the recap:

C.J. Prince

The smashing C.J. Prince started us off with poems evoking images of mariachi bands, film stars, and the joy of dancing. She is a co-author of the story collection Catching My Breath and will feature in a reading in October. Peter Rust grabbed our attention with a tense scene of discovery from a sci-fi manuscript he’s developing. You can check out Peter’s blog Unashamed Studios. Memoirist Shannon Hager delighted us with an excerpt entitled “God Spoke to Pastor Taylor” from her work Five Thousand Brothers-in-Law. Continue reading

July 2012 Open Mic

Dear Writers,
Our midsummer ensemble at the July open mic at Village Books was a hit! Thanks to Village Books for providing us with a great venue and for its regular support and nurturing of local writers. Here’s the July recap:
Photo: Intellectual look!

Nancy Lou Canyon

Nancy Lou Canyon treated us to a short piece “Jeannie Ann” from her e-book Dark Forest. Her quietly moving prose evoked a past that heavily informs the future. Kudos to Nancy as well for having her beautiful art adorn the walls at Village Books. Rae Ellen Lee, who we all look to for hilarious guidance on spotting geezers, tonight showed us a beautifully different style with a vignette from her childhood, published in Sea of Voices, Isle of Story (TripleTree Publishing 2003). Sporting a Periodic Table of the Elements t-shirt, Jim Milstead amused our group with his clever response to e.e. cummings, but then also turned wonderfully reflective, reading “Appointment.” Dick Harris read from “Midstream,” his blogged work, and not to be outdone on t-shirt night, Dick had on his shirt from the 2000 Iowa Summer Writing Festival, where he is an eleven-time alum! Continue reading

June 2012 Open Mic

Dear Writers,

We got mobbed by the geezer gang at open mic! Here’s who was there and what they read:

Her astrologer determined that CJ Prince would write about sex and death, so no surprise that she launched the night with pieces titled “One Night Stand,” “Hot,” and “Vanity.” After we broke for cold showers, Carol Hunter resumed with a very moving piece on the fallout of the drug war in Mexico. Dianne Meyer shared a beautiful and humorous tribute to a writing friend, “Ethel, When Last Seen.” Vince Laudi offered two protest pieces—”The Gun Lobbyist” and “Our God is Better than Your God”—along with “Coal Train,” a spoken song in search of a melody. Janet Oakley beautifully read “Technicolor Dreams,” published in the anthology A Cup of Comfort for Women.

Continue reading

May 2012 Open Mic

Dear Writers,

What would you like done with your body after you’re dead? At the May open mic at Village Books, Shannon Laws’ comtemplative poem “Perhaps” offered a resonating reply. Henry Cross came next reading “Nessie,” a charming recollection about a true son of the South. His better half, Susan Campbell Cross, treated us to an excerpt of her novel in progress titled Consequences. She has 400 pages written to date. Go, Susan! With his usual panache, Matthew Brouwer entertained with poetry recalling a sour day at Folk Life (but it’s been much better lately, he reports).

Continue reading