Poetry and prose night combines words and art

Biweekly open mic event highlights all forms of spoken word

When Adriana Virtue wanted something different for a poetry and prose open mic night in Powell River, she took the idea from the spoken word events she attended while living in Edmonton.

Virtue's experience at those open mic poetry nights encouraged people to do arts and crafts, giving them something to do with their hands, while at the same time listening to the words.

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“I want people to be sitting at tables drawing and doodling and hanging out together and interacting in a different way where they can also listen,” said Virtue.

It’s an interactive twist to the usual author-on-stage readings.

“Author readings can go on too long,” said Virtue. “I’m trying to change the vibe.”

Virtue said she wanted to offer something a bit different than the poetry slam competitions Powell River Public Library puts on.

Slam is a form of poetry taken from the street with a hip hop influence and staccato cadence, like word acrobatics.

“With slam, there’s pressure,” said Virtue. “With slam, there’s scoring.”

Slam poets and anyone else are welcome at the open mics that Virtue is coordinating, but it won't be as structured as the popular library events.

“There's a lot of literary people here, but outside of slam and a few readings, there isn't much in the way of spoken word,” said Virtue.

The spoken word doesn’t have to be a person’s own material, said Virtue. It can also be a reading from a favourite piece of literature, she said.

At the Poetry and Prose open mic and literature nights, Virtue said she does bead work and listens while another person might sketch. One night, there might be a crowd poetry session, or the upcoming life drawing.

“On September 11, we're going to have what’s called life drawing,” said Virtue. “There will be someone posing for five minutes at a time in different poses for people to sketch.”

Jessica Leavens, a local yoga instructor, is organizing the life drawings.

“We're going to pick a theme,” said Leavens. “Each time it's going to be different and there will be more than one person on stage at a time, acting out little scenes connected to the theme that people can draw."

Virtue said organizing the poetry and prose nights is motivating and is putting pressure on her to write more of her own poetry.

She said she thinks many people in the community have stories to tell and wants somewhere to gather where everyone is supportive.

“Knowing that the community is missing that is like a no-brainer,” she said. “By the fall and winter we will have a space that we're used to, we're comfortable in and where we can come together.”

Poetry and Prose open mic and literary readings take place every second Monday at the Red Lion Pub. The next reading is 7 pm on Monday, August 14.

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